Trayvon Bromell
AP

Trayvon Bromell turns pro, signs with Usain Bolt’s agent

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Trayvon Bromell, who shared World Championships 100m bronze on Aug. 23, turned professional and will forego his final two seasons of NCAA eligibility with Baylor, his new apparel sponsor, New Balance, announced Tuesday.

Bromell, 20, became the youngest man to earn an Olympic or World Championships 100m medal since 2003 when he clocked 9.92 seconds in the final in Beijing two months ago.

He tied another NCAA junior, USC’s Andre De Grasse, for third place behind Usain Bolt (9.79) and Justin Gatlin (9.80).

De Grasse has not turned professional.

Bromell will be represented by Bolt’s agent, Ricky Simms.

“I knew after Worlds and medaling, I knew that I could get a good contract, so my main thing was to figure things out with my family,” Bromell said, according to SportsIllustrated.com. “We felt that right now was the best decision. We weren’t big on taking chances for next year. In a moment like this, it’s a 50-50 chance if you decide to go back to school. You could get injured and your value would drop. We felt like the opportunity was in our face.”

Bromell’s decision was not surprising, given his Baylor coach said before the U.S. Championships in June, “if he goes big up there this weekend, which by all accounts he probably will, it’s going to be difficult for him to come back,” according to the Waco Tribune.

Bromell then clocked the fastest wind-legal time of the U.S. Championships — 9.84 in the first round — and eventually finished second to Tyson Gay in the final.

“Only way I’m going to come out [and turn pro] is if I get what I’m worth,” Bromell said on USATF.TV at the U.S. Championships. “I’m not like the average athlete that jumps when they see a dollar sign. … I don’t want to seem like I’m asking too much or anything, but I don’t want to be that person that gets gypped over and not get what they should get. I feel like if I’m not getting what I deserve, I’m going to stay in school because I guarantee my degree will get me what I’m worth.”

MORE TRACK AND FIELD: Are Trayvon Bromell, Zharnel Hughes the future of sprinting?

Bernard Lagat reminded of Atlanta Games at U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials

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ATLANTA — As 45-year-old Bernard Lagat sat inside a hotel overlooking Centennial Olympic Park, he spoke one sentence that prefaced the start of his Olympic journey more than two decades ago.

“We are doing this in a special place,” he said of the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, which finish at the park on Saturday (12 p.m. ET, NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app).

Lagat is an underdog, but has a chance to make a sixth Olympic team by placing in the top three. He can break his own record as the oldest U.S. Olympic runner in history.

Lagat was reminded this week of the Atlanta Olympics that got away.

In 1996, the Kenyan-born runner was coming off his freshman year at Jomo Kenyatta University Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi. He studied mathematics and computer science.

Lagat debuted at the Kenyan Olympic Trials. He remembered finishing seventh in the 1500m, having exhausted himself by clocking a 3:37 semifinal.

“They had fancy shoes, nice clothing,” he said of the pros. “Me, I was like hand-me-down spikes.”

Lagat’s coach at the time, Nganga Ngata, arranged for him to transfer to Washington State later that summer. But first, Lagat watched on TV the Olympic 1500m final — famous for then-world-record holder Noureddine Morceli and current world-record holder Hicham El Guerrouj making contact at the bell; El Guerrouj fell, Morceli won.

Days later, Lagat headed to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi. He was to fly to the United States for the first time, embarking on a journey that would lead to U.S. Olympic teams in 2008, 2012 and 2016 after he represented Kenya in 2000 and 2004.

Before a 21-year-old Lagat boarded his flight, he encountered a reception. The Kenyan Olympic team was arriving back from Atlanta after collecting eight medals, including in every men’s distance-running event.

“They had all these celebrations, traditional milk and the gourds,” Lagat said. “Oh, it was amazing. … That fire, seeing them coming home with medals, and I thought, I want to be like those guys.”

Lagat went on to earn eight combined Olympic and world championships medals between the 1500m and 5000m. Lagat qualified for one last Olympics on the track in 2016, going from sixth place at the bell to win the trials 5000m. He was fifth in Rio.

Then he turned to the marathon. Lagat has raced two of them. He clocked 2:17:20 in New York City in 2018, saying he was “running blind” with inexperience. He ran 2:12:10 at the 2019 Gold Coast Marathon in Australia, ranking him outside the 20 fastest Americans in this Olympic cycle.

Lagat went back to Kenya last month to train for the trials with the likes of world-record holder Eliud Kipchoge. Lagat soaked up so much that he likened it to a six-week school term.

At one point, Lagat was part of a 30km training run with Kipchoge. By the end he rounded a bend and saw the Olympic favorite just 60 seconds ahead.

“You think about Eliud being 60 seconds ahead of you in a 30K?” an incredulous Lagat said. “I thought, I’m done. Now I can buy my flight and go back to USA. I’m ready.”

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MORE: Galen Rupp, after tumult, finds familiarity before Olympic marathon trials

Chris Lillis, after missing Olympics, back atop aerials podium

Andrey Kulagin
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U.S. men’s aerials skiers had gone four years between World Cup victories. Now, they’ve won back-to-back events.

Chris Lillis prevailed in Kazakhstan on Friday, six days after Justin Schoenefeld ended the U.S.’ longest men’s victory drought since aerials became an Olympic medal sport in 1994.

Lillis, the 21-year-old brother of 2017 World champion Jon Lillis, landed a double full-full-full in the super final to score 121.27 points. Full results are here. He beat a field that included Schoenefeld (sixth place) and his older brother (14th) but lacked the world’s best from China and Russia.

“That was definitely one of the best jumps of my career,” Chris Lillis said. “Moving forward I’m feeling deadly.”

Chris has earned back-to-back World Cup podiums, his first top-three finishes since missing the PyeongChang Olympics with a torn ACL.

Also Friday, American Megan Nick finished second in the women’s event for her second runner-up this season. The last U.S. woman to win a World Cup was Kiley McKinnon on Jan. 6, 2018.

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MORE: Olympic aerials champion retires to coach