(L-R) Ronnie Baker, Trayvon Bromell and Fred Kerley cross the finish line in the men's 100-meter final at the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track and Field on June 20, 2021 in Eugene, Oregon.
After winning the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track and Field in June with a time of 9.80 seconds, Bromell was the favorite going into the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Shockingly, he did not make the Olympic final, placing third in his semifinal with a time of 10.00 seconds. Then, in another setback, Team USA did not qualify for the final in the 4 x 100-meter relay. But Bromell never quit; he kept pushing through highs and lows on the international track circuit.
In his final race of the year, the St. Petersburg, Florida, native blasted out of the blocks in the Kip Keino Classic, opening a gap on the field before Ferdinand Omanyala of Kenya started to catch up. Bromell held him off, although Omanyala did secure an African record with a time of 9.77 seconds. He is now No. 8 all-time. At age 39, Justin Gatlin of Team USA was third with a time of 10.03 seconds.
“Man… my story in track and field is one for the books,” Bromell said on Instagram after the race. “Only God knows why I go through what I go through. I hope to present to the world a warrior’s heart.”
He added, “I may not have grabbed the Gold in Tokyo but where I come from, I’ve already won…. 5 years ago I underwent surgery. 2017-2019 I was home watching track from the couch. Now it’s 2021 and I’m the 6th fastest in history. I’m a keep fighting because I want y’all to keep fighting. Never give up!”
And Bromell went on to say that “2022 I’m at your neck! P.S. – I’m running some 4 x 4s next year” with a smiling face with sunglasses emoji.
The only Americans who have run faster in the 100 meters than Bromell are Tyson Gay (9.69) and Gatlin (9.74).
The Nairobi race is now one of only three in history in which two men have posted times under 9.80 seconds with a legal wind: the 2009 world championships with Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and Gay and the 2012 Olympic final with Bolt and fellow Jamaican Yohan Blake.
However, it bears noting that Nairobi has an altitude of more than 5,000 feet and thin air can contribute to fast times.
As a teenager, Bromell was deemed “The Next Big Thing” when he became the first junior to run under 10 seconds, clocking 9.97 seconds in 2014 when he was 18. Bromell was NCAA champion and the 2015 world bronze medalist.
A bone spur near his Achilles tendon in 2016 started his troubles. He was second at the Olympic Trials, then eighth in the Rio Games. But Bromell further injured himself in the 4 x 100-meter relay. As a consequence, he underwent surgeries and sat out huge chunks of time including the entire 2018 season.
Trayvon Bromell reacts after the men's 100-meter semifinal at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 1, 2021 in Tokyo.
Bromell’s comeback looked complete when he won this year’s Olympic Trials, with four of his rivals failing to overtake him despite running personal bests.
Then came the below-par semifinal that cost him a shot at the gold medal. “I want to say thank you to everyone who’s been with me on this journey,” Bromell said on Twitter. “Lord knows how much I wanted to be in that final. BUT I walk away with a smile because I know I showed many that after 4 years out, you can still fight and make dreams come true.”
After the 4 x 100 relay fell short, Bromell wrote, “I’m sorry but this is tough. Went through all these injuries and hard work to fail bro.”
A day later, he added, “One thing for sure, two things for certain. It’s time to get back to work. The mood is set.”
In his next race at the Prefontaine Classic on Aug. 21, Bromell ran 9.86 seconds, but was disappointed to place only fourth. “Realizing I ran under 10s 30 times and only have 1 Gold medal and 1 bronze,” he wrote. “Yeaaaa it’s time to tighten up.” The next day he added, “I like the man I’m becoming mentally and physically. I come from noting, so in light of it all, I’ve won at life. Never give up, step on the necks of the odds. Don’t listen to the critics, keep God first. You’re destined for greatness if you believe! You against the world.”
A few days later, Bromell told his followers “I just want to win, nothing wrong when you lose. But I’m long overdue” #PassionRunning.
On Sept. 3, Bromell was second in Brussels, then fourth in the Diamond League final in Zurich, writing that he was going to “get better at running overseas. Just have to keep pushing.”
Five days later, Bromell placed third in Zagreb, but he wasn’t done. He finished strong in Nairobi to cap his season with a victory.
Kerley, the Olympic 100-meter silver medalist for Team USA who ran a personal best of 19.76 seconds to win the 200 meters, summed it up. “Definitely need more races in Africa,” he said.
And Bromell’s fans will undoubtedly be asking for his spikes.