Ryan Bailey is an improbable and inspirational addition to the U.S. sprint team, by Roy Stevenson, note by Larry Eder

We met Ryan Bailey last night. What a nice guy, and how genuinely happy, and tickled, I have to say, on making the team. Bailey took third, running from lane one.

Roy Stevenson caught up with Ryan Bailey, the third placer in the men's 100 meters. Here is his piece:

Bailey_RyanSF-OlyTr12.JPGRyan Bailey, 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials
Photo by PhotoRun.net

By Roy Stevenson

EUGENE, Oregon
June 25, 2012

To say that 100m third-placer (9.93) Ryan Bailey was a dark horse for the men's 100-meter team for London would be a major understatement. "I'm truly blessed to be here. Hayward Field is like my home field. I'm happy to make the team. I really can't find the words to describe how I feel", said a humble Ryan at yesterday's interview.

With an upbringing definitely not conducive to world class sprinting, including moving dozens of times, a father convicted of sexual assault, involvement with a gang, an uphill academic struggle, poverty, and multiple injuries, Bailey is a living, breathing inspiration to other underprivileged youth who suffer the same tribulations.

Bailey_RyanTyreeFL-OlyT12.jpgRyan Bailey holding his son, Tyree, 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials
Photo by PhotoRun.net

"I didn't have the best childhood", says the tall (6' 4") 180lb sprinter, who graduated from Douglas McKay H.S., in Salem, Oregon, one of a family of eight children. "I realized I was on the wrong road, and wanted to turn my life around. I had my family and coaches around me to help me. I've done a complete 180. I feel real good about that."

Bailey's mother, Debra Galban, and post HS coach, John Parks, a positive male role model in his life, have steered Ryan through his tribulations that included being stabbed after an altercation with another student. Despite his troubled life, Ryan showed glimmerings of his potential at high school in 2007, when he won the Oregon state H.S. titles, and in 2009 when he took the junior college national sprint titles.

It took some extra study to catch up and graduate from high school, and Ryan was still academically unable to attend a university where he would have received expert coaching. "I would have loved to go to college but things just didn't work out", he says.

With a best 100m time of 9.88 and 200m of 20.10 in 2010--his breakthrough year--Bailey finished a close second in the UTEP Invitational 100m to Churandy Martina, the Beijing Olympics fourth placer. The same day he also beat Martina in the 100m.

Ryan's life and sprinting have finally come together for him. U.S. track fans will be watching Ryan Bailey as he progresses through the 100m elimination heats in the London Olympics, and many people close to him will be hoping he can make the final where he can represent not only his country, but the athletes out there who have to struggle daily just to make their grades and find food for the table. The guys at RunBlogRun wish him the best!

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