LOS ANGELES — USC track star Bryshon Nellum is many things.
For starters, he’s a running miracle. After being shot in both legs, he was told that his track career was over.
One could call him a fighter.
Unique, original, determined and authentic are a few of the adjectives he would use to describe himself.
After his success last weekend in Eugene, Ore., he can now add national champion to the mix.
While he’s at it, he can add USTFCCCA 2013 Male Track Athlete of the Year to his list of impressive credentials.
This is part one of an inside look to Nellum’s USC career in his own words as told to FOXSportsWest.com:
“After my senior year in high school, I had graduation and everything was just going beautiful.
“I felt like I was on top of the world. I was accomplishing my goals. I was winning gold medals. I was experiencing the world, traveling, and seeing all types of the things that the average person where I’m from may not see because they’re so busy working or dealing with life in the inner city. I just enjoyed myself.
“I took another big step in my life, which was coming to college at USC. USC is where I always wanted to come. I lived in LA all my life. I used to come up to USC when I was a kid to practice and view the campus and meet other athletes that came before me. I always said that if I was going to go anywhere I was going to go to USC.
“I was like ‘Wow, I’m really here.’ I ended up moving into the dorms and doing the whole freshman thing and meeting all types of athletes. At this time, Reggie Bush was the highlight of SC. He was the star of the school. I was just now coming in and I was excited to go to the football games because the football games were so live.
“And then track season started. We were going through fall season and I was adapting to the season. The spring season came and my first track meet of the whole year, I was looking forward to it and in that meet on the 4×400 relay, I tore my hamstring.
“I did a lot of rehab. I redshirted that season. I did a lot of rehabbing. After I was able to get healthy again, the second year, that’s when it almost came down to a career-ender when I was shot in both legs.
“Being shot in both legs was definitely devastating because I’d been having all of this success in track and field and my goal was to make it to the Olympic Games and run. I thought that my goal and my dreams were done with.
“I did a lot of thinking. What’s next? How am I going to be able to overcome this? To have the support system from SC, my family, friends, loved ones, all the people that believed in me and my fans, and people who didn’t believe in me — that was also motivation too — I was able to overcome that tragedy and continue to train and continue to work hard.
“When I became healthy, I could never make it to NCAAs because every time I try to take my body to that next level, something would go wrong with my hamstrings. So it took me two, three years to become healthy and get used to running again. I did have a healthy year last season in 2012. I had my last surgery before that season and I was getting my body familiar to take it to that next level. I had an outstanding breakthrough at Mt. Sac when I ran 45.18 and that’s when I was the collegiate leader.
“I hadn’t taken my body to that level in a long time and so it took time for me to catch up to that point and then I went to nationals and I didn’t even make the finals. It wasn’t ready for me then. My body was still trying to recover and get back to running that fast again. By the time we got back from nationals that motivation for not making the finals went into Olympic Trials. I ended up running against the best in the U.S. and placing third, which put me on the Olympic team.
“This time, I finally made the Olympic team and then the Worlds. I started from the youth world team when I was younger then I went on to the junior world team and then the Olympic team. It takes steps. It was just amazing getting to that level after everything I’ve been through — not even really confident but just going with the flow. Although I was able to compete and made it to the second round, just like I missed the national finals, I missed the Olympic finals. That was just an experience in itself. I was just happy just to be there and then be a part of a 4×400 relay.
“We got a silver medal and that was even better because I didn’t come home empty-handed. I came back with some hardware for my country so that was also a great feeling just to have something to come back with, whether it was first, second, or third — gold, silver, or bronze.
“It was a hard decision to see what I was going to do next. Was I going to leave USC or stay? As I thought to myself, I never got a fair chance of college. My first two years, I was injured and two years after that, I was still injured but I was just running good enough to get the feel for being back on the track. It was like rehab or therapy.
“I was like, you know what? I haven’t had a healthy season. I haven’t had a fair college season. Now that I’m healthy let’s go back and let’s make our goal to be a national champ.”