This is Deji Ogeyingbo’s feature on Trayvon Bromell, and Deji’s arguement that Trayvon could win the big one in 2022!
Trayvon Bromell, 200m champion, 2022 NB Indoor GP, photo by Jeff Benjamin
Can Trayvon Bromell finally win a global 100m title in 2022?
Very few athletes come as precocious as Trayvon Bromell over the 100m, a discipline that decides who the fastest man in the world is. The American has been one of the strongest over the distance in the last five years, but injuries largely has taken a toll on his body, one that can shatter the dreams and hopes of any human, talk more of a professional athlete.
Born in St. Petersburg, Florida, Bromell ran his first race at the age of 6, having been hand-selected for a youth team in the area after beating the neighborhood kids in a footrace, reportedly clocked 12.09 at 9, became the 100m champion having run 9.97 at 19, the world was at his feet.
Bromell knew track was his get-out-of-jail card, as he had an upbringing that saw him and his mum struggle to get by and his best friend ending up in jail. Having dedicated his craft to be the best possible sprinter he can at an early stage, thereby overcoming adversity, he has had to overcome the burden of injuries, which he seems to be a thing of the past after a stunning end to 2021 in which he held the world lead (9.76) over the 100m.
That, however, in the lexicon of Track and Field is still not enough, as wining a global medal is seen as premium in the sport, one even Bromell witnessed at the Tokyo Olympics when despite him being the bookies favorite to clinch the 100m title, he could only manage a semifinal placing at the games.
The fact he got to that point enough is already an achievement, but not for someone as goal-driven as Bromell. Just at the point when his career was taking shape at the global stage, the 26-year-old shredded his Achilles as he anchored the Americans in the relay in the Rio Olympics after he had finished eighth in the 100m final.
But that was not the first time he had suffered a major injury setback. Bromell’s injury woes started from way back in eighth grade when he broke his left knee doing a front flip, his right knee playing AAU basketball in ninth grade, and in 10th grade, he saw his high school track dreams shatter, as he broke his hip.
While his other sprinting protégés were brushing up themselves and posting record times, Bromell had to watch from the sidelines as he built “contraptions” to help speed along with his recovery.
That recovery process took three years. To be fair to Bromell, there are very few athletes that can get back to top shape after such a grueling period, but the sprinter had come too far to let go at such a point.
After getting a chance to run at the high school level, it didn’t take long for him to prove his mettle as he blazed to a wind-aided 9.99s at the great South West classic in 2013. After that purple patch, what came next was a tale of success, setbacks, and comebacks.
The success came during his brief period at Baylor University in which he won two NCAA titles in which he set a new Personal Best (PB) of 9.97 to take the 100m outdoor title and 2015 200m Indoor title. He improved on his PB that same season as he timed 9.84 at the US trials in 2015.
The world began to take note. At the World Championships in Beijing, Bromell placed third behind Bolt and Gatlin. It was his first major champs while the latter two seemed to be winding down on their career. As expected, he was tipped to dominate over the distance.
When he seemed to be having it good, another kick in the teeth set in. The aftermath of the Rio Olympics was only the start of his pain. He missed most of the 2017 season after surgery, didn’t race at all in 2018 after needing another operation, and then in 2019 suffered a serious hip injury. It looked like the end of the road for Bromell, has he continued to believe in God who he credits with his ability to stay strong.
“I broke all these bones,” he says. “I’ve had all these injuries that most will probably never come back from. I’ve met with many doctors, more than anyone athlete should have to meet. And they all came back with the same result: ‘You won’t run fast.’
It was a long road to recovery. Some would have even contemplated retirement, but not Bromell. The feeling of running 10.4 and 10.5 after his return in 2019 didn’t make for good sight, but he kept on putting in the work. However, 2020 was when the pieces began to fit in.
The Covid-19 enforced break put a spanner in the works for a good return, but he still put together a good series of races between July and August where he won all of his races over the 100m.
2021 came with good tidings for Bromell, as injuries became a thing of the past. He had an almost flawless season which saw him win his first 10 races over the 100m. Prior to the Tokyo Olympics, his form dipped a little as he could only manage a fifth-place finish at the Monaco Diamond League.
Regardless, he was still the bookies favorite to snag Gold in Tokyo. He probably picked the worst moment of any athlete’s season to lose his form. A 3rd place finish in the semis saw him miss out on a final spot, a performance that echoed issues that might be mental and psychological on the biggest stage.
“I’ve got to be honest; it will take getting a medal [worlds/Olympics] to get me the solidified respect that I deserve,” he says. “The only reason I say that is because I’ve run the times but everyone else in that top-10 list has got a medal. For example, when Tyson Gay ran 9.69 in Shanghai in 2009 and had a perfect 2.0m tailwind if that was me the world would’ve been like ‘he couldn’t do that anywhere else but as Tyson had multiple medals, they didn’t look at it like that.
The world of track and field can be unnecessarily cruel with viewers only keen on the output an athlete gives on race day. Bromell is not ignorant of that premise, but looking at the box half full than half empty is what has seen him overcome his injury travails. That alone in itself represent strength, resilience, and success for him. To the outside world, it is winning a global medal and this year offers him the chance to get the monkey off his back.
Trayvon Bromell and his fans, February 6, 2022, photo by Jeff Benjamin
Bromell has started his season on a good note, finishing second behind Christian Coleman over 60m at the Millrose Games in New York a fortnight ago, but there are still lingering doubts if he can still do it on the big stage considering how injuries and not getting it right at that level has hindered him.
Still, there is that chance that he could yet fulfill his promise and deliver when it matters most. It might feel like 2015 again when he was the next big thing at the World Championships, but this time he’s not got rivals who are at the tail end of their careers like Bolt and Gatlin.
The likes of Coleman (reigning World Champion), Lamont Marcel Jacobs (Olympic Champion), Ferdinand Omanyala (African Record Holder), and a couple of other big names who are the peak of their careers have got something to prove also, but ultimately, the onus lies on Bromell to show the world that he can attain his potential by wining a global medal this year.