EUGENE, Ore. — In a brief span in June, Trayvon Bromell had an asthma attack at a meet in Rome that led to an ambulance ride off the track, and he suffered a slight tear in his left Achilles in advance of an event in Birmingham, Ala.
The latter wasn’t career-threatening, despite early reports to the contrary.
“I don’t know why people were on Twitter saying a career-ending (injury),” Bromell said Saturday. “I was like, ‘Hey, it’s not that serious.’ ”
But the temporary ailments reawakened discussions about Bromell’s checkered past of injuries, including a rash of setbacks — to both knees, his hip, his forearm — during his time at Gibbs High School in St. Petersburg, Fla.
They also reawakened discussions about his slight frame, relatively speaking: In a sport full of statuesque sprinters, especially in the 100 meters, Bromell, at 5-9, 157 pounds, stands apart from the crowd.
Even Bromell admits that the transition to a professional career, which began last fall, has taken its physical toll. “It’s hard on the body more,” he said, citing the immense amount of travel.
Perhaps his performance in the qualifying heats in the men’s 100 meters at this week’s U.S. Olympic trials will put both issues to rest. Bromell ran a 9.94 in the 100, a time that paced the field and rivaled his personal best in the event, a 9.84 clocked here at the University of Oregon’s Hayward Field at last June’s U.S. championships.
“It was crazy when it came up,” he said. “But I ran a 9.8 so I know what it takes to run that.”
After weeks of uncertainty following the Achilles injury, the time made a statement: Bromell is not only healthy, he's poised to punch his ticket to Rio Olympic Games.
“I came in here banged up a little bit, but I knew God healed me, so I just had to run my race,” Bromell said. “I know God can make anything happen. So my mom told me that it was healed. She said, ‘God took care of it.’ And so He did.”
Bromell’s post-injury regimen involved “a thousand different things,” he said, though in reality it was fairly simple: bed rest, ice and sleep, a tough pill for the 20-year-old to swallow.
He began to see signs of recovery in the past week. He recorded himself practicing his starts and liked what he saw; after that, “I knew I could do them,” he said. He posted 11-second times in repeat 100-meter sprints — essentially, back-to-back runs without breaks — to prove he was up to date in his conditioning.
But it wasn't clear he could run such an eye-opening qualifying time, one that led a handful of 100-meter luminaries: Tyson Gay (9.97), Michael Rodgers (10.0) and Justin Gatlin (10.03) were just behind the former Baylor product.
“I just want people to know that I’m trying to represent possibility,” Bromell said. “For those people who were always told you’re too small, you’re not strong enough … I just want to be that someone for kids that are growing up and having the same issues like I did.”