As he leaned forward to cross the finish line, Trayvon Bromell started to lose control. His arms swung forward like a freestyle swimmer. He tried to regain his balance, but after sprinting 100 meters, there was too much momentum to stop. His legs kicked upward as he tumbled onto the track.
This was the scene in Rio more than four years ago. Bromell was part of the 4×100 relay team competing at the 2016 Olympics. Bromell was the anchor, trying to edge his way into second place in the final steps.
That’s when he went crashing to the ground. He didn’t get up. A wheelchair was brought out. He was rolled away with what was eventually diagnosed as a torn Achilles.
To make matter worse, his last-second effort didn’t result in a silver medal. The team finished third. A few minutes later, the group found out they were disqualified due to an illegal baton pass.
But now, five years removed from his stumble, Bromell is headed to the Tokyo Olympics. He burned through the men’s 100-meter final on Sunday night at the U.S. Olympic trials in Eugene, winning with a time of 9.80. It has been a part of a winding journey, where Bromell endured multiple injuries and fought through mental anguish.