For the past year, Trayvon Bromell’s world was in focus. The starting blocks. The finish line. The space between.
The former Gibbs standout blocked out the frustration of mounting injuries that sidelined him for most of the past three years, the pain of losing his track mentor and biggest supporter and the struggles from his first — and only — appearance in the Summer Olympics in 2016.
This was a redemption tour for Bromell, once hailed as the nation’s up-and-coming star in the 100 meters. Stronger, determined and injury-free, Bromell (featured photo above courtesy of Jay Stone) spent the past year training — and competing — with an eye on the Olympic Trials and a return to the world’s biggest track and field stage in Tokyo.
He entered the trials undefeated this year in the 100 and was the overwhelming favorite to win after posting the world’s fastest time (9.77 seconds) this season three weeks ago in his signature event.
Still, Bromell took nothing for granted. He declined nearly all interviews in the weeks leading up to the trials.
“I just want to keep my head clear,” Bromell said.
That single-minded pursuit paid dividends on Sunday.
Crouched in a four-point stance, Bromell surged to the lead and stayed there, finishing first in the final in 9.80 seconds.
“God is real,” Bromell said afterward, citing his deep faith that has helped him overcome setbacks and get to the pinnacle of his sport.
Five years ago, Bromell was a star in the 100- and 200-meters. He had already signed an endorsement deal with New Balance. He was an indoor champion and medaled in the 100 at the World Championships.
Then came the injuries.
First was a bone spur in his Achilles, an injury that severely impacted Bromell’s performance at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. He finished last in the 100 and ended up in a wheelchair after gutting out a leg in the 4×100 relay.
Since that setback, Bromell has only raced a handful of times.
He twice had surgery on his Achilles, the last in 2018. After running in a few events last year, Bromell is training with a better understanding of how to come back from his injury. One of training partners has been Marvin Bracy, who played football at FSU and was a star sprinter with the Seminoles.
“We’ve been training,” Bromell said last year. “We’re getting ready for this season.”
The pain Bromell has endured was not all related to injuries. Last year, he dealt with the death of Garlynn Boyd, the Lightning Boyd Track club coach who was instrumental in his development at an early age.
“Lord knows this one hurts…not being able to hear your voice,” Bromell said about Boyd on his Twitter page last year. “No matter the circumstance, you knew how to bring out the best out of me. Even though you’re gone, you live on forever in me. I promise to keep running.”
That is exactly what Bromell did. He kept running — and winning.
But to get back to the Olympics, Bromell had to get through the preliminaries, the semifinals and final of the 100. He won his heats with ease in the prelims and the semifinals, cruising to the finish line with energy to spare.
That set up his moment in the final.
Bromell won that, too.
And now he is back in the Olympics. Better still, he is the favorite to become the first American since 2004 to win Olympic gold in the 100.