Oregon Sprinter With Turbulent Past Dashes His Way Onto Team USA

Jun 25, 2012

Oregon native Ryan Bailey showed early potential on the track. But few would’ve predicted a trip to the Summer Olympics for this formerly troubled football and track athlete from Salem. Yet that’s the unlikely turnabout Bailey can tell you now that’s he sprinted his way onto Team USA. Correspondent Tom Banse reports from the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in track and field in Eugene.

23-year-old Ryan Bailey says he didn’t have the best childhood. He can’t even remember how many times he and his single mom moved around Oregon.

Bailey: “As far as the numbers, I don’t even know. We moved quite a bit.”

Some other factors stacking the deck against him: poverty, being expelled from high school, getting stabbed by an acquaintance, sports injuries. But in Bailey’s favor, a high school track coach and mentor in Salem who recognized enormous sprinting potential.

Bailey: “I was on the wrong road and I needed to turn my life around. So I had my family and coaches and everybody around me to help me do that. Now that I did, it is just a complete 180. I’m happy about it. I feel real good.”

Happy because at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Bailey raced the 100 meters in a blazing 9-point-93 seconds… good for third place and a spot on Team USA for the London Olympics. That puts Bailey in the unenviable position of going up against world record holder Usain Bolt and 2004 Olympic gold medalist Justin Gatlin.

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio