If you haven't heard the story, here's the short version. On Oct. 31, 2008, Nellum was walking to the USC dorms from a Halloween party on Vermont Avenue when he was hit by three gunshot blasts from two gang members in what turned out to be a case of a mistaken identity drive by shooting.
He didn't sugarcoat it, though.
"There's relief, but overall it's just happiness that I'm able to compete and do what I did for so many years," Nellum said after his workout. "The excitement of being able to run and reach this point, I just feel blessed. It was a dream come true."
It was Olympic poetry. Done, he leaned over as his body dealt with the intensity of the anaerobic effort. Sixty seconds later, he dropped down to the track and waited for a few minutes, pulling on a white T shirt while waiting for Allice to say words he's much too familiar with: "OK, Bryshon, let's start over."
Wearing gold track shoes and gray shorts, he walked down the east side of the track to the run off straightaway tucked into the south corner. He is coached by USC's Ron Allice, who spent 30 years coaching in Long Beach. (Stephen Carr / Prada Wallet Money Clip
Bryshon Nellum works out at Veterans Stadium on Monday, July 9th, 2012. Olympic men's track and field 400 meter team with a gutsy performance at the Olympic Trials. (Stephen Carr / Staff Photographer)
Nellum is one of the greatest sprinters in California state prep history. At Poly, he became the first to win the 200 and 400 meter state titles back to back in 2006 and 2007. His 20.43 time in the 200 broke a state record that had stood for two decades. His four winning efforts in the 2007 state meet (200, 400, two relays) tied a record set during World War I in 1916.
Having important people close by helped. If it wasn't Allice or his Trojan teammates, it was Nellum's former coaches and teammates from Poly. If it wasn't his mom, Leshon Hughes, and his grandmother, Brenda Jones, it Prada Eyeglasses Tortoise Shell
was the trainers and therapists who helped him during his seemingly endless rehab.
The synthetic track at Veterans Memorial Stadium on Monday afternoon absorbed the heat of a cloudless day and held it like an oven, seeming to take almost all of the oxygen in the sky with it. It was not a day to be running, and the two dozen young men, runners and football players, on hand working out did what their bodies requested and moved as little as possible.
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Nellum, who will compete in the London Olympics, has perfected starting over.
Two shots lodged in his left thigh and one ripped apart his right hamstring. He was hospitalized for almost four months and doctors said his days as a world class runner were over.
There was a second surgery on his thigh in 2010 to remove fragments, forcing another round of starting over, and then a third in 2011 after a fragment left in his leg by doctors began to push on a nerve, sending searing pain into his groin.
During the most painful and depressing times after the shooting, when he wondered if he'd walk again, much less run, Nellum also had dreams dreams where he re created the shooting but instead took the bullets in his arms or shoulders. Anywhere but the legs.
"Physically and mentally. I could tell because I was able to train through the pain.
Major surgery in 2008 for the initial injuries left him in a wheelchair, unable to walk from his hospital bed to his bathroom.
Nellum rose from his start easily and within 20 meters was at full speed. Like the finest thoroughbred, he was moving almost without effort, his legs a blur but his shoulders and head virtually motionless. No wasted effort. An architect's T square couldn't have drawn a straighter line along his shoulders.
by a photographer for a picture, he kindly shows the deep scar on his right leg where a bullet punctured the skin and tore out muscle. Faced with another round of questions about his five year ordeal, he is genuinely polite and pleasant.
For someone whose career as a runner, and possibly his ability to walk normally, was almost terminated in 2008, the former Long Beach Poly High star and USC senior wears his unique optimism and ability to rebound as easily as that T shirt.
"He was literally starting from ground zero, each time," Allice said. "He was having his legs cut open each time, and each time he was having muscle cut or tissue removed or having a delicate operation removing a fragment from the edge of a nerve. It's only been the last eight months that he's been pain free since the shooting.
Long Beach Poly grad Bryshon Nellum a winner before Olympics begin
"He's my guy," Allice said. "It's his career. I'm not going to tell any athlete, especially one as talented as Bryshon, what he can't do."
According to Bryshon, "Each operation was difficult, but each time I felt I was getting stronger."
Eight months after that last surgery, after starting over again, Nellum went to Eugene, Ore., for the Olympic track and field trials and came home with a ticket to the London Olympics. He finished third in the 400 meter race, posting a personal best 44.80 seconds in the process. 4 by 400 meter relay team. Olympic hockey win over the Russians "Do you believe in miracles? Yes!" applies to Nellum.
"We had goals, but sometimes they were small. Train hard. Get back on the track by a certain day. Run in the relay. Have a pain free day. The first day I ran without pain, it was like, Oh. My. God. I'm not hurting any more.' I think being stronger mentally helped me reach that point."
"We always set a goal, but we were always cautious. There were no expectations at any time. We never set a time in any event. We literally took it day by day, year by year. What he had going for him is this amazing will to come back, each time. The amount of work he's put in to get back . I've never seen anything Prada Handbags For Ladies like it."
It was bad enough to bring him to tears, and he refuses to share any personal thoughts that went through his mind. But he did what a great coach, one who has always put his athletes first, does in that situation: Tell his athlete that he will run again.
Allice, his USC coach and a Long Beach native who has spent almost 50 years coaching track, went to the hospital after the shooting and saw the damage to Nellum's legs.
They were wrong, but the process of coming back seemed as endless as Monday's heat.
His college career was all starts and stops. As a freshman in 2008, he strained a hamstring in his first race at USC. The shooting came almost 10 months later. He spent 2009 in rehabilitation and slowly began running in 2010. On his 21st birthday in May 2010, he ran his first 400 since the shooting during the USC UCLA dual meet. It was the greatest second place finish in his career.
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