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Bryshon Nellum: US Track Runner's Story One of the Best of 2012 Olympics

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 10:  Bryshon Nellum of the United States celebrates after winning gold in the Men's 4 x 400m Relay Final on Day 14 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 10, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Steven CookContributor IIIAugust 12, 2012

Bryshon Nellum didn't get to London the conventional way, and his story can be an inspiration for athletes and spectators alike. 

After all, one silver medal for the U.S. in a 4x400-meter men's relay usually doesn't garner too much attention, much less being voted as the U.S. flagbearer for Sunday's Closing Ceremony. 

The U.S. Olympic track runner's accomplishments at the 2012 London Games are just the culmination of what has been an uncommon four years of preparation for the sports world's biggest stage. 

Nellum, like many other Olympians, was a highly-touted, two-sport athlete coming out of high school. His elite ability led him to enroll at the University of Southern California, where the unthinkable happened.

While at a Halloween party in 2008, his second year as a Trojan, Nellum was shot three times in his very valuable legs.

As two bullets penetrated both of his quads and another in his left hamstring, Nellum was left seriously injured and wondering whether not only his athletic career, but his life, was in jeopardy. Police have since attributed the crimes as a gang-related shooting that was a case of mistaken identity, but that did little to quell the impact it had on Nellum. 

Nellum had to go through three grueling surgeries just to ensure that he could use his legs in the way that so many of us take for granted. 

After the surgeries and while in the midst of a grueling, three-year rehabilitation process, doctors told Nellum he would never reach world-class speed as a runner ever again. That didn't keep Nellum down, and he proved them wrong just like he did those nasty gang members who put not only his career, but his life, in danger. 

Even qualifying to represent one of the world's top track countries is a massive feat for someone who endured what Nellum has, much less being a productive and inspiring member of the team. 

Suddenly, the lap that he ran to contribute to America's silver medal in the 4x400 doesn't look so insignificant after all. 

There's no doubt that Nellum's presence alone is an inspiring story for not only the Americans, but all athletes competing at the London Games. 

Storylines for odd-defying athletes have been dominated by South Africa's Oscar Pistorius and Caster Semenya, but there's no reason why Nellum's shouldn't rank near the top with what he's accomplished both in London and in the past four years of his life. 

Hopefully being voted on by his teammates to carry the U.S. flag in the Closing Ceremony will help to get him just a little of the attention he truly deserves. 

 

Steven Cook is a TNT breaking news writer and Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter.

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