LONDON – Bryshon Nellum’s doctors told him he might never run again.
Not on an elite level. And surely not in the Olympics.
Yet here he is in London, less than four years after gang members shot the former Southern California track star three times in the legs in a case of mistaken identity. Just a year ago he underwent his third and final operation to remove the last remnants of bullet fragments in his left hamstring.
“Me making the team, I already feel like I’ve won,” Nellum said.
He will make his long-awaited Olympic debut today in the preliminary heats of the 400 meters – the same event that features double-amputee Oscar Pistorius of South Africa. The man known as “Blade Runner” fought to compete alongside the other sprinters at Olympic Stadium.
There’s also the first big sprint showdown at the track between the U.S. and Jamaica in the women’s 100-meter final.
In the pool, Michael Phelps will wrap up his final Olympics in the 400-meter medley relay looking to add to his record medal haul.
Already, Nellum says, he has won just by wearing the U.S. uniform when plenty of people questioned whether he’d even walk after the attack following a Halloween party in 2008.
The 23-year-old Nellum is now mixing company with some of the track stars he has watched and admired in recent Summer Olympics: Jeremy Wariner, Allyson Felix, Sanya Richards-Ross.
Swimming: Gold-medal finals in men’s and women’s 4x100 medley relays, men’s 1500 freestyle, women’s 50 freestyle. Track and field: Gold-medal finals in men’s long jump, women’s 100. Beach volleyball: Elimination round. Women’s diving: Springboard semifinals.