The London Olympics will come to a close on Sunday evening, and the US has officially announced that track and field athlete Bryshon Nellum will be the country’s flag bearer during the Closing Ceremony. Nellum will lead a squad of 529 athletes as they say farewell to London and many look forward to Brazil in 2016.
Nellum is a first-time Olympian who ran the first leg of the men’s 4x400m relay, an event in which Team USA took home a silver medal.
The 23-year-old’s road to the Olympics was extremely difficult. During his freshman year at the University of Southern California in 2009, Nellum was shot in the legs by gang members in a car that pulled up alongside him when he was walking home from a party. He was left with injuries in each thigh and his right hamstring, and doctors told him that it was highly unlikely he would ever reach world-class speed again.
“I’m humbled by this incredible privilege,” Nellum said in a statement Friday according to the LA Times. “Four years ago, I wasn’t sure I would ever run again, and now I’m leading Team USA into the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games. I’m so grateful for the incredible support of my friends and family and I’ll never forget these Games.”
After three separate surgeries (the most recent of which was a year ago) that hampered his recovery, Nellum was able to defy the odds and make his way to London. As the Olympic torchbearer who got this embarrassing tattoo would likely tell him, the best thing he can do is enjoy the experience for what it is and try not to get too wrapped up in the moment.
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