Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Olympic Silver Medalist and former USC Track and Field sensation Bryshon Nellum needs no further introduction. The star of USC track has overcome adversity and hardship throughout his career, making this final season of success even more rewarding for the superstar.
Even for a man who was selected to carry the flag for the U.S. Olympic Team in the closing ceremony, winning a championship for the Cardinal and Gold of USC Track meant the world.
“The national championship was fondest memory in the last two years,” said Nellum. “Of course, the Olympics are dream come true, but to come back and win was always my goal. To come and achieve that goal, was a great victory for me.”
The superstar stole the show in Troy this season, capturing the 200m NCAA National Championship, helping them earn a coveted individual title. For Nellum, the painstaking journey resulted in ultimate triumph not only on the track but also in the classroom.
“I came back to USC for another year. I was confident after that Olympic experience in 2012,” according to Nellum. “I’ve been at the big stage, so any level I ran at, I knew I was going to be able to perform because I was able to perform at the Olympic Games.”
With a goal of winning a national championship on his mind, Nellum returned from the Olympics focused, determined and budding with confidence for his sixth and final season in Southern California. The home-grown talent excelled in his final year, capturing the best of both worlds.
“So why not go back to college and kill two birds with one stone,” said Nellum. “I come back, get my degree and win national championship. Plus I go to Olympics, what could be better than that.”
After receiving a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA, Nellum was given the opportunity to run for a school ladened with 26 team national championships, while getting the chance to complete his degree among the great academic universities in the world.
The value of an education from USC is recognizable worldwide. And Nellum immediately pointed out the value of being a distinguished scholar. “I can’t run track forever,” said the future-conscious Nellum. “Now once I’m done with track, I have something to fall back on with my education.”
Life in Southern California was not always pretty for the Los Angeles native. Back in 2009, Nellum overcame a well-documented gunshot wound to his leg, forcing him to redshirt the entire season with thoughts of possibly never being able to run again.
Four long years later, now healthy and plenty battled-tested, Nellum has embraced his past and is moving forward with a positive outlook. Largely in part due to the loving environment he received throughout his star-studded career in Southern California.
“It was about having a great support system, that allowed me to continue to do what I love to do,” Nellum said about his USC track and field family.
Jul 16, 2013; Hollywood, CA, USA; Philip Rivers (left), Bryshon Nellum (second from left) and Paul George (right) pose with 2013 Gatorade National Boys Athlete of the Year Andrew Wiggins at the W Hotel. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
This past week, Nellum left the stage of the Gatorade National Player of the Year Awards in a role fit for an accomplished leader and athlete.
With years of wisdom and championship experience in hand, Nellum shadowed the Track and Field Athlete of the Year- Baylor-bound freshmen Trayvon Bromell.
“This is another step in my career, I was always the won getting the award,” said Nellum, the Gatorade National Track and Field Player of the Year Winner in the 2006-2007 season.
Alongside the likes of Misty May-Treanor, Philip Rivers, Paul George and Abby Wambach, Nellum shined in the role of leader as a guest of honor at the nationally recognized award ceremony. “To be able to give future athletes the award is an honor, to help others is just another step in the process.”
The next step in his career demands an even more intense set of drills, practices and preparation for life as a professional track and field athlete overseas. Nellum can’t wait for the opportunity to compete at the highest level and prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio as an official professional athlete.
“Wherever I go, I leave a legacy. So I will continue to work hard and fight on,” said the enthusiastic Nellum summing up his bright future not only as an athlete, but a role model for many hoping to one day follow in the champions footsteps.