Written by Dave Dulberg, USC blog contributor
Redshirt senior sprinter Bryshon Nellum (pictured below by imageofsport.com) knows he can't run from the events that transpired on the night of Oct. 31, 2008, but these days all he's focused on is moving on.
Nellum, the No. 1 ranked 200m and 400m high school sprinter in the nation back in 2007, was shot in the legs three times a few blocks outside of the USC campus three years ago on Halloween night forcing him to miss his entire sophomore season. While the 2007 Gatorade National Boys Track and Field Athlete of the Year has since returned to action over the past few years (2010 All-American in 4x400m relay), for the first time in his USC career, Nellum feels no pain from the incident.
"It's amazing to finally say that I am pain-free," said Nellum, who had offseason surgery to remove the final bullet fragments from the shooting. "The most important thing for a runner is confidence, and I have that back now."
While Nellum is not shy about playing back the emotional memories from that fateful night and the hard road back to competition, the former Long Beach Poly HS star wants this season to be about what he does on the track, not what's happened off it.
"It might seem crazy, but I've put all of that other stuff in the past," said Nellum. "Of course it's a good feeling to know I've overcome that tragedy. But I believe I have a bright future ahead of me. Now is the time to embrace that."
On most afternoons when the majority of the USC track and field team has left Cromwell Field, Nellum continues to put in the time. While he came to campus in 2008 as one of the most decorated recruits in program history, 2012 represents a chance for Nellum to regain his elite form.
"It's still a step-by-step process for me," said Nellum. "I want to achieve so many things for myself and for this university, but these things take time. The goal right now is to reach the NCAA Championships for the first time in my collegiate career and hopefully place in the events."
Early on this spring, Nellum looks to be every bit as strong and as fast as he's ever been. At the Beach Classic in Norwalk on March 4, the Los Angeles native won the men's 400m race with a time of 46.87 and at the Ben Brown Invitational on March 14, Nellum won the 200m dash with a time of 21.21.
This weekend, the redshirt senior will participate in the 400m and 4x400m races at the seven-school Trojan Invitational. But even after all he's been through during his time at USC, Nellum's eyes are still on a much bigger competition, the 2012 London Olympic Games.
"It's always been about 2012," said Nellum. "I've had this year circled on my calendar well before the tragedy. And as I'm trying to prove each day, that event won't stop me from getting there. If I get the opportunity to compete at that level words wouldn't be able to describe it. I'd be able to show everyone out there that if I can get through the toughest of obstacles, so can you."