After finishing his redshirt senior season at USC, sprinter Bryshon Nellum ventured to the 2012 London Olympics, where he won a silver medal with teammate Josh Mance, a USC junior, as part of the U.S. 4×400-meter relay team. Nellum, who was named the Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year in 2007, was told he might never be an elite athlete again after he was shot in the legs while leaving a restaurant near USC’s campus in 2008.
Q: In 2010 and 2011, your seasons ended prematurely because bullet fragments shifted in your legs. Can you talk about the frustrations you felt?
A: It was real tough. I went through a lot of ups and downs, times where I thought I would never be able to reach my peak. But I just stuck with it, stayed in the system and stayed dedicated. I have a great support system at USC and with my family.
Q: What role has your mother played in your recovery process?
A: My mom is also like my sister and my best friend. She’s my everything. There were times where all I could do was go to her. Whenever I couldn’t even stand up to cook, she would be there to make me a nice homemade meal. She was there for me every step of the way.
Q: What are some of your reflections on the 4×400-meter relay race that won the silver medal?
A: Unfortunately, we didn’t get the gold medal, but representing my country and where I came from was really fulfilling. It felt great coming home with a medal. My main goal was to bring some hardware back to show all my hard work paid off.
Q: How has your relationship with teammate Josh Mance evolved over the years?
A: We have a great relationship. We keep each other motivated and competitive. At practice, we challenge each other, so, when it’s time to step on the track, we’re ready. Off the track, he’s a funny dude with a good sense of humor.
Q: As one of the 528 members of the U.S. Olympic team, what were your thoughts on being named the U.S. flag bearer?
A: It was a blessing just to be a part of that ceremony. To carry the flag and represent all of those athletes, I just wanted to do it to the best of my ability. We have a lot of great athletes out there, and to be chosen as the one to carry the flag was an honor.
Q: Do you plan to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro?
A: Definitely, that’s another one of my goals. I’ve finally had a healthy, successful season under my belt. Now, I can just work from here on out.
Q: What is the next step in your career? What are your professional aspirations?
A: My major is real estate development. Right now, I have a couple of more classes I need to finish to graduate. I’m going to knock those out, and then I’m going to start training again for the World Championships. I’ll still be around [USC], but not so much because I’ll be out training and traveling.