Olympics Preview: Former, Current Trojan Runners Will Race For Gold
As the world counts down the final days to the 2012 London Olympics, Neon Tommy is here to get you acquainted with the 38 Trojans that will be going for the gold this year. We continue our preview with four runners who have enjoyed success as collegiate and Olympic athletes.
Josh Mance (USA): Mance graduated from high school in 2010, and in just two years at USC, he has made his way to the Olympic stage. As a freshman, he set a freshman record of 45.29 seconds at the NCAA semifinals and earned All-American honors by placing 6th in the 400-meter at the NCAA finals, among other things. USC has a long-standing history of producing top flight 400m sprinters, and Mance is just the latest example of that. Before USC, he went to and medaled at a few Junior Olympics, so it only makes sense that once he was eligible, he would earn himself a spot on the roster for the real deal. At the 2012 Olympic qualifiers, he competed in the open 400m and the 4x400m relay and qualified for the U.S. relay team. He placed in the top-four times considered for the relay, so it is highly likely that he will be on the final team once it is actually set. This is Mance’s first stint at the Olympics, but based on his pedigree, we can expect him to be a legitimate factor amongst the best of the best for Team USA. He is familiar with the pressure associated with competing on a grand scale, and could be one Trojan sprinter to bring back some hardware to Troy.
Event: 1600m relay
Bryshon Nellum (USA): If any American Olympians deserved the opportunity to compete in London, it is undoubtedly Nellum. In October 2008, Nellum was shot in the hamstring, and his track career looked like it would come to an extremely heartbreaking end. However, Nellum fought on through recovery and made a triumphant return during the 2012 season, four years later after the incident. He placed in the top-six at the NCAA finals, which garnered him an opportunity to compete at the Olympic Qualifiers. There, he competed alongside fellow sprinter Mance in the 400m, and just edged him out at the finish for the final spot on the roster. After the race, he and Mance embraced, and it was clear that both of them were elated at how far Nellum had come in four years. Nellum will be going for even more glory when he competes in his first Olympics, an opportunity that wasn’t supposed to happen.
Event: Open 400m
Events: 100m and 200m
Duane Solomon (USA): Solomon was one of the strongest 800m runners in his time as a Trojan and will get his first shot at Olympic glory this year. He narrowly missed a trip to the Beijing games in 2008 when he placed sixth overall at the qualifiers. This time around, Solomon had a chip on his shoulder, and in the end would taste success. He qualified for the 2012 Games by finishing third overall. Going into the race, Solomon had not achieved the A Standard required to go to the Olympics on an automatic bid. Solomon trailed Charles Jock in the first lap with a time under 50 seconds. Jock faded and Solomon charged into the lead, opening up almost 10 meters on the field. Nicholas Symmonds and veteran Khadevis Robinson chased down Solomon and overcame him, but he held on for third place. His time of 1:44.65 surpassed the Olympic A standard, making him eligible for London.
These Trojans will proudly represent Team USA in just over a week and all are legitimate contenders to forever cement themselves into Olympic lore.