Advertisement
  1. Sports

Trayvon Bromell's Olympic quest began with a video game

EUGENE, OR - JULY 03:  Trayvon Bromell crosses the line 2nd while Justin Gatlin (not pictured) celebrates victory in the Men's 100 Meter Final during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on July 3, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) 603453315
EUGENE, OR - JULY 03: Trayvon Bromell crosses the line 2nd while Justin Gatlin (not pictured) celebrates victory in the Men's 100 Meter Final during the 2016 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on July 3, 2016 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) 603453315
Published Aug. 12, 2016

Trayvon Bromell reveled in the pageantry of the Olympics opening ceremony in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The former Gibbs High track standout posed for pictures, danced along with the samba sing-alongs and marveled at the lights and fireworks.

Capturing it all on social media, Bromell said that it was the greatest night of his life, one that took 14 years of training.

With the spectacle of the ceremony over, Bromell is focused on the competition. The sprinting sensation begins competing in the 100 meters Saturday morning. The semifinals and finals are Sunday night.

Bromell, representing the United States, is favored to medal, especially tying for third at the World Championships last year behind two-time defending champion Usain Bolt of Jamaica and 2004 champion Justin Gatlin of the United States.

Bromell also is the reigning world indoor champion in the 60 meters.

Though he is pegged as the premier up-and-coming sprinter in the nation, if not the world, the 21-year-old is not consumed with the notion of winning his signature race or even placing among the top three on his sport's grandest stage.

For him, just being in the Olympics is all that matters.

"I'm not selfish," Bromell said before leaving for Rio. "This was the dream, to be in the Olympics. I've already got everything I wanted. There are no worries. There's no pressure. Everything else is extra. I can just go and compete and live it out. If I win, then it was meant to happen. It was part of God's plan."

Bromell's Olympic quest began with a video game more than a decade ago. He and childhood friend TJ Holmes were at a hotel room in Orlando playing Athens 2004, which depicted characters mostly in track and field events.

"We had some downtime before one of our track meets and started playing this video game," said Holmes, a former star at Lakewood High who runs hurdles at Florida. "We never thought about the Olympics or even watched them. After that, we wanted to be a part of something like that in the future. We were both hoping we could someday be characters in that game."

Bromell's likeness has yet to appear in video games. But he does have a line of shoes.

In October, Bromell decided to forgo his remaining college eligibility at Baylor and sign a multiyear endorsement deal with New Balance. In June, the shoe company unveiled a line of five sneakers, NB1 Kicks, that Bromell helped design, each one representing a different aspect of Bromell's life on and off the track.

Bromell's contract with New Balance allowed him to indulge in a few luxuries. He bought two cars, one for himself and another for his mother. He also purchased a home in Texas.

Since turning pro, Bromell also has had to adjust to his newfound fame. Clebrity news website TMZ did a segment on him last year as he arrived at an airport in Los Angeles. There have been television and newspaper ads featuring Bromell, including one that airs on Ch. 8 to promote the Olympics.

Despite living in a world of speed, Bromell insists he is not consumed by the fast life.

"I'm not really looking to be an entertainer or a celebrity," Bromell said. "I keep a low profile. I pay all of my bills. I'm thankful for everything. More than anything, I want to be a symbol, someone who can help change lives."

Bromell attributes his success to God-given ability. His faith has guided him through plenty of obstacles, he said. In high school, Bromell went through a series of serious injuries. He broke both his knees, fractured a forearm and cracked a hip his first three years at Gibbs. His senior year was his only full high school season in track.

Two months ago, he had to overcome a sprained Achilles to qualify for the Olympics at the U.S. trials.

"Without God, without faith, I wouldn't be able to run track," Bromell said. "That is what has helped me to get to this point. I've had struggles, not just in track, but in life. Now, I want use the position I'm in to show others that you can achieve anything."

After the Olympics, Bromell will return to Baylor to finish his degree. He said he wants to start a foundation in St. Petersburg with scholarships for aspiring track stars.

"I'll start to kick around ideas with my agents and management team," Bromell said. "I want to reach out to those who need it most, those who have nobody to help them. I've realized my dream by making the Olympics.

"Now I want others to fulfill their dreams, too."