Getty Images

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

Leave a comment

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

Joey Mantia extends U.S. medal streak at speed skating worlds; Dutch dominance returns

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Joey Mantia ensured the host U.S. finished with a medal at the world single distances championships. Ireen WüstKjeld Nuis and Jorrit Bergsma ensured the Netherlands finished atop the medal standings.

Mantia joined Shani Davis as the only U.S. men to earn individual medals at three different editions of the championships, taking bronze in the 1500m on the last day of the speed skating meet at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Mantia won the mass start at the last two worlds in 2017 and 2019 (and finished fifth on Sunday, after the 1500m bronze).

Mantia clocked a personal best 1:42.16 in the fifth of 12 pairs of the 1500m. It held up until Nuis (1:41.66) and countryman Thomas Krol (1:41.73) in the last two pairs.

“Was starting to think that I’m so old that I can’t time trial anymore,” Mantia, a 34-year-old whose last 1500m personal best came in 2015, told media in Utah. “Maybe there’s a little bit of hope left.”

Mantia’s medal extended the U.S. streak of making the podium at every world championships this millennium — 16 straight. The single bronze is the smallest medal output since 2000.

Full results are here.

Wüst and Nuis gave the Dutch a sweep of the men’s and women’s 1500m titles, two years after they did the same at the PyeongChang Olympics. Bergsma, an Olympic and world 10,000m champion, earned his first global medal of any color — gold — in the 16-lap mass start.

The Netherlands failed to earn any golds on the first two days of the four-day competition. The dominant Dutch, who topped the medal standings at every Olympics and worlds dating to the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Games, entered Sunday trailing Russia.

But Wüst began the day by clocking 1:50.92 to win the 1500m by .21 over Russian Yevgenia Lalenkova. American medal hope Brittany Bowe, the 2015 World champion who took bronze last year, finished 14th a day after taking eighth in her world-record 1000m distance.

Nuis and Krol went one-two in the men’s 1500m to tie Russia’s medal total. Then Irene Schouten took bronze in the women’s mass start to put the Netherlands ahead for good, followed by Bergsma’s capper.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: Shani Davis retires, takes new role in speed skating

Netherlands on the board; more world records at speed skating worlds

AP
Leave a comment

It took four world records from other countries before the Netherlands won its first title in an Olympic program event at the world single distances speed skating championships.

Jutta Leerdam got the dominant skating nation on the board on the third day of the four-day competition and in the ninth Olympic program event. Leerdam scored an upset over defending champion and world-record holder Brittany Bowe, the American who ended up eighth.

Leerdam, 21, prevailed despite having zero World Cup podiums to her name. She clocked 1:11.84, just .23 slower than Bowe’s world record set on the same Utah Olympic Oval last year. Bowe, who recently had her yearlong win streak snapped in the 1000m, finished in 1:12.92.

“It’s a nightmare,” Bowe said, according to media on site.

Later, the Netherlands won the men’s team pursuit in a world record 3:34.68, the fifth world record in Olympic events the last two days on the world’s fastest ice at the 2002 Olympic oval outside Salt Lake City.

Full results are here.

The world championships conclude Sunday, highlighted by American Joey Mantia defending his world title in the mass start.

In other Saturday events, both the men’s 1000m and women’s 5000m world records fell. On Friday, world records were lowered in the men’s 10,000m and women’s team pursuit.

Pavel Kulizhnikov followed his Friday world 500m title with the 1000m crown, repeating his double gold from 2016. Kulizhnikov was one of the Russians banned from the PyeongChang Olympics after he served a prior doping ban.

On Saturday, Kulizhnikov clocked 1:05.69 to take .49 off Dutchman Kjeld Nuis‘ record from last March, also set at Salt Lake City. Nuis, the Olympic 1000m and 1500m champion, took silver, 1.03 seconds behind.

Russian Natalya Voronina and Czech Martina Sablikova both went under Sablikova’s world record in the 5000m. Voronina came out on top in 6:39.02, 2.99 seconds faster than Sablikova’s record from a year ago and 2.16 seconds faster than Sablikova on Saturday.

Voronina’s time would have been the men’s world record as recently as 1993. Sablikova won the previous 10 world titles in the event dating to 2007.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: World Single Distances Championships broadcast schedule