Trayvon Bromell doesn’t fear Usain Bolt, bigger, older sprinters

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Trayvon Bromell swore off sprinting — all sports, really — after taking his third ride to the hospital in as many years.

Among his injuries:

— Severely injured left knee on a back flip gone wrong in eighth grade.

— Damaged right knee while grabbing a rebound during a basketball tournament in ninth grade.

— Cracked hip in a 100-meter race as a sophomore.

On his way to the doctor after hurting his hip, he told his mom, “Let’s just stop here before I can’t walk anymore.”

Time healed those wounds and Bromell has bounced back to become one of the top American sprinters. The 20-year-old may even be the one to give Usain Bolt a run for the gold medal at the Rio de Janeiro Games if he makes the 100-meter team at Olympic Trials this week. It won’t be automatic with Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay and Mike Rodgers around, along with the fact that Bromell has been dealing with a tender Achilles in the lead-up to trials.

“My biggest dream was to go to the Olympics, but I never knew how I was going to be there,” said Bromell, who kicks off his quest to reach Rio with a 100-meter heat Saturday and is entered in the 200. “If I could go as a spectator, just to sit and watch, my dream would have come true. But to actually be there and compete? I just might lose my mind.”

At 5-foot-9, 156 pounds, nobody will confuse Bromell with Bolt, who is 6-5, 205.

Bromell’s small frame hasn’t slowed him down. He turned pro last fall after two NCAA titles at Baylor. Bromell hired the same agent as Bolt and signed a shoe deal with New Balance.

“This image of, ‘Oh, you have to have this look to be great.’ Well, you don’t,” said Bromell, who’s from St. Petersburg, Florida. “I want to show everyone that it is possible.”

That’s partly because he never thought he’d even be in this place, especially after fracturing his hip in high school — the final straw, he figured, in his athletic career. One moment Bromell was flying down Lane 6 and the next he woke up on the grass after blacking out because of pain.

Time for a new path. Maybe as an engineer, he thought. Or as a tattoo artist or maybe a stint in the Army.

His mom, though, convinced him to give it one more shot.

So, once his hip healed, back to the track he went. Bromell’s first race back wasn’t that spectacular — he ran 11.33 seconds, which was well off his personal best. But it may have been one of his best races because it rekindled his desire.

Bromell was named Gatorade’s national track and field athlete of the year in 2013, in part because he ran the fastest time ever (9.99 seconds) by a U.S. prep athlete regardless of wind conditions. He also won the USA junior championships.

Turns out, he actually recruited Baylor. The Bears were known more for producing 200- and 400-meter runners such as Michael Johnson and Jeremy Wariner, but Bromell signed up and set all sorts of records. He holds the top-10 fastest 100 times at Baylor.

“Nothing really surprises me when Trayvon gets on the track,” said Baylor associate coach Michael Ford, who trains Bromell. “He’s got an inner focus that I haven’t seen from a young sprinter, especially one on this big of stage.”

At the 2015 world championships in Beijing, he tied for the bronze medal in the 100 with Andre De Grasse of Canada. Three months ago, he gained more confidence by winning the 60-meter race at the world indoor championships in Portland over a field that included Jamaican Asafa Powell.

“I’ve always been a confident person. I don’t fear too many things,” Bromell said. “No man on this earth will put fear in me.”

Now, his time has come. And though reports say he’s been dealing with an Achilles sprain since May, he has taken time off from meets and expects to be fresh — he told the Tampa Bay Times — for what’s sure to be a competitive race for one of three spots.

“It all comes down to who has the strongest mindset,” Bromell said. “A lot of people don’t see me big as a big threat, because of my stature and size. A lot of people count me out, just because people are bigger than me. At the end of the day, if you have a stronger mindset you can overpower anyone.”

MORE: Jeremy Wariner a longshot for 4th Olympic team 12 years after gold medal

Scotty James wins fifth X Games snowboard halfpipe title

Scotty James
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Scotty James doesn’t have Olympic gold, but he remains king of the X Games halfpipe.

James, the Australian snowboarder who took bronze and silver at the last two Olympics, earned his fifth Aspen gold, repeating as champ of the biggest annual contest under falling snow in the Colorado Rockies. Only the retired Shaun White has more X Games men’s snowboard halfpipe titles with eight.

Nobody on Friday night attempted a triple cork, which was first done in competition by Japan’s Ayumu Hirano last season en route to the Olympic title. Hirano placed sixth Friday.

“It was a tough night, pretty interesting conditions,” James said. “Had to adjust the game plan. The show goes on.”

In a format introduced three years ago, athletes were ranked on overall impression over the course of a three-run jam session for the entire field rather than scoring individual runs.

Earlier, Olympic gold medalist Zoi Sadowski-Synnott of New Zealand repeated as women’s snowboard slopestyle champion, passing Olympic bronze medalist Tess Coady of Australia on the final run of the competition. Sadowski-Synnott, the only snowboarder or skier to win Olympic, world and X Games slopestyle titles, capped her finale with back-to-back 900s.

The competition lacked 2014 and 2018 Olympic champion Jamie Anderson, who announced her pregnancy last month.

Canada’s Megan Oldham landed the first triple cork in women’s ski big air competition history to beat Olympic silver medalist Tess Ledeux of France, according to commentators. Oldham, a 21-year-old ex-gymnast, was fourth at the Olympics.

Eileen Gu, the Olympic champion from China, did not compete but is entered in halfpipe and slopestyle later this weekend.

ON HER TURF: U.S. freeskier Maggie Voisin on grief, loss, finding motivation

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Isabeau Levito wins U.S. figure skating title at age 15, followed by comeback stories

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Isabeau Levito won her first U.S. figure skating title at age 15, cementing her status as the new leading American woman to open the new Olympic cycle.

Levito, the world junior champion, tallied 223.33 points between two strong programs in San Jose, California. She distanced two-time U.S. champion Bradie Tennell, who went 19 months between competitions due to foot and ankle injuries in 2021 and 2022 and scored 213.12.

Tennell was just two hundredths behind Levito after Thursday’s short but had multiple jumping errors in the free skate.

Levito followed her as last to go in the free and nailed the most pressure-packed performance of her young career, including the hardest jump combination done of the entire field. She didn’t receive a single negative mark from a judge for her 19 technical elements in her two programs.

Moments later, she was in tears backstage.

FIGURE SKATING NATIONALS: Full Scores | Broadcast Schedule

“I was just so proud of myself for staying so calm and staying so focused, doing exactly what I aimed to do,” Levito, who hasn’t finished off the podium in more than 20 events dating to November 2016, said on NBC. “I’m ready to start bouncing off the walls.”

Amber Glenn, 23, placed third and will likely become the oldest U.S. women’s singles skater to make her world championships debut in at least 45 years. Glenn botched her 11th attempt to join the list of U.S. women to land a clean triple Axel (tally according to Skatingscores.com) but still moved up from fourth after the short program, passing Starr Andrews.

Last year, Glenn entered nationals as the fourth-ranked U.S. woman and a hopeful for the three-woman Olympic team. She placed 14th in the short program, competing unknowingly with COVID-19, then tested positive and withdrew before the free skate.

In 2021, Glenn was the U.S. silver medalist, yet passed over for a spot on the two-woman world team in favor of the more experienced Karen Chen, who finished 35 hundredths behind Glenn at those nationals.

Levito, Tennell and Glenn are expected to make up the team for March’s world championships, decided by a committee.

Gracie Gold, a two-time U.S. champion who was fifth after the short program, popped a pair of planned triple Lutzes and dropped to eighth.

None of the three 2022 U.S. Olympians competed. Alysa Liu and Mariah Bell retired. Chen is a student at Cornell and might not return.

Nationals continue Saturday with the free dance and pairs’ free skate, live on NBC Sports and Peacock.

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