- Fred Kerley won the men’s 100 meters in 9.86 seconds to lead the first U.S. sweep in the event since 1991.
- Marvin Bracy finished second and Trayvon Bromell finished third, both in 9.88 seconds.
Fighter jets soared over Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon, to signal the first men’s final of the World Athletics Championships on Saturday, July 16—the 100 meters. A boom reverberated throughout the stadium after the supersonic streaks passed overhead, much to the crowd’s enthusiasm.
Could the subsequent race live up to the hype of something as American as a flyover? Fred Kerley and his U.S. teammates—who took up a full half of the final—never doubted it for a second (or 10). A few minutes later, not one, not two, but three of those men earned medals, marking the first U.S. men’s 100-meter sweep since 1991—which was led by sprint legend Carl Lewis.
Kerley’s tall figure pushed out of the blocks well, but Marvin Bracy to his inside drove through the middle segment to move into first. Kerley pressed to the line and dipped, just nipping Bracy, as Trayvon Bromell stormed down the outside of the stretch over the final meters for third. The men clocked 9.86, 9.88, and 9.88, respectively. The fourth American in the final, defending world champion Christian Coleman, finished sixth. The crowd erupted even louder than before as chants of “U-S-A” broke out.
“It feels amazing to have it on home soil, to have the crowd behind us. We said at USAs that we were going to do it, and we got the job done today,” Kerley said about the sweep.
Despite the hardships the COVID-19 pandemic brought, there’s a good chance none of the three men on the podium would be there today without it.
Watch the race below:
Kerley was a 400-meter specialist from his student-athlete days at Texas A&M until last year, and might not have returned to his short-sprint roots. “If it was 2020, I probably wouldn’t be in this position,” he said. “I probably still would have been in the 400.”
Kerley frequently ran the 100 and 200 meters and long jumped. He started running the 100 meters again last year and earned a silver medal at the Tokyo Olympics. Kerley is now the only man to medal in both the 100 and 400 at world championships.
After making the 2016 Olympic team in the 100 meters, Bracy transitioned to professional football—only to be hampered by a broken arm in 2019. “I realized right then and there, that my football dream might be over,” he said. Bracy came back in 2020, but had a major surgery to fix a ruptured appendix and intestinal blockage—he now has eight staples from his belly button down.
Bromell was an NCAA champion at Baylor and rolled that success into a bronze medal in the 100 meters at the 2016 world championships and gold medal in the 60 meters at the 2015 indoor world championships. But Bromell has constantly dealt with injury since then, seeing doctors all over the world for the answer to his never-ending Achilles issues. He almost quit sprinting in 2018.
“I didn’t know if I really wanted to return to the sport, because it was that tough,” he said. “It’s hard to wake up sometimes… at practice my ankles be cracking, my hips be cracking. I feel like an old man even though I’m young.”
Even though the 100 is behind them, the three medalists have a busy week ahead. Kerley aims to back up his 100-meter title with a 200-meter world title, with the first round on July 18. All three are eligible to run the 4 x 100-meter relay, which kicks off on July 22.
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The U.S. 4 x 100-meter team has notoriously underperformed at previous championships. But watching the three men banter at the postrace press conference—teasing one another about cornhole matchups and Kerley’s penchant for gardening—there’s clear chemistry that might compound into relay gold.
But after all the joking, when a British member of the press asked whether the U.S. would be beaten by Great Britain in the 4 x 100 relay again, Kerley met the question with a straight face: “I think we’ll be beaten by no one. We put the work in, and we’re going to accomplish some great things in these upcoming days”