Former Baylor national champion Trayvon Bromell continues to impress in his first Olympic games in Rio. Bromell competes in the 100-meter sprint final on Sunday against Olympians he idolized growing up, including world record holder Usain Bolt.
The 21-year-old from St. Petersburg, Florida has already racked up a few accolades himself. He won the NCAA 200 indoor title, and tied for bronze in the 100 at the 2015 world championships in Beijing. Earlier this year, he won the 60-meter race at the world indoor championships over a field that included Jamaica’s Asafa Powell. Tonight, however, he will compete on the biggest stage of his career.
“My biggest dream was to go to the Olympics, but I never knew how I was going to be there,” Bromell told NBC Sports. “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.”
Bromell also said he’s embracing the opportunity to race against older and bigger competitors such as Bolt.
“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.”
Here’s everything you need to know about Bromell’s background and family.
1. His Uncle Encouraged Him to Start Running
Bromell was born July 10, 1995 in St. Petersburg, Florida to parents, Cashmere and Shri. His uncle, Terrell, encouraged him to start running at the age of 10, when he saw him racing on the street, according to the Daily Mail.
Speed came naturally to Bromell from a young age, however, many of his adolescent years were plagued with injury. He has had to overcome major injuries, including a fractured forearm, cracked hip and broken knees.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries but God gave me this talent and I’m starting to recognize it,” Bromell told the Daily Mail. “In eighth grade I was just being dumb, doing backflips and stuff, trying to flip over my friend, and I broke my knees.”
Todd Harbour, track and field coach at Baylor, told the publication that the obstacles he’s had to overcome have made him stronger.
“The injuries helped shape him, build his character, to have to go through some tough times,” he said. “So success didn’t come easy, he had to work for it. But he remembers the days when he was back there. It keeps him pretty level.”
2. Both of His Parents Were Athletes
Bromell comes from a family of former athletes. His father, Cashmere, played football in the Canadian League while his mother, Shri Sanders, was a former high school sprinter.
But according to Harbour, Bromell has more than just natural ability. As he told USA Today: “He’s got the great work ethic. He’s focused. The perspective I think is as big as anything. It’s big for a sprinter.”
3. He Lost His Father in 2014
Bromell’s father, Cashmere, died after suffering a heart attack while in the hospital in 2014.
“Any time you lose a parent, it’s hard,” Bromell told the Tampa Bay Times. “I didn’t have a real strong relationship with my dad growing up, but we were starting to build something the past few years. These are the things that helped me become stronger and give me perspective.”
4. He Promised His Mom He Would Receive His College Degree
Bromell turned professional in 2015– giving up his college eligibility. While he ended his college career at Baylor, he still intends to see his college education through.
Bromell told the Tampa Bay Times, he will make sure to get his college degree– a promise he made to his mother.
“I know I’m probably not like everyone else because I love college. I love gaining knowledge. And I know that a college degree to going to eventually help me get a job once I’m finished with track. It’s not going to last forever.
“Whatever I do, I will make sure my college education is paid for.”
Bromell signed an endorsement deal with New Balance in October 2015.
5. His Mom Encouraged Him to Run Track
Throughout his injuries, Bromell has said his mother, Shri Sanders, continued pushing him forward.
“Speed is always something that excited me, but I didn’t really know where I was in track until my senior year in high school,” Bromell told Running Competitor. “My mom kept saying, ‘You should run track.’ You should give it a try, don’t just quit on it.’ I kept pushing and working hard and getting stronger from my injuries and God blessed me with an opportunity, and I took advantage of it. Moms always know best.”