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Marvin Bracy — January, 2024
Marvin Bracy is the 2022 World Championships Silver Medalist at 100 meters and in the 4 x 100m relay. At the World Indoor Championships, he is 2014 Silver Medalist and 2022 Bronze Medalist at 60 meters. Bracy is four-time U.S. Indoor Champion at 60 meters (2014/15/16/20). Marvin was a 2016 Olympian at 100 meters after finishing third at the 2016 United States Olympic Trials. He has over thirty wins as a professional including twice at the Millrose Games in New York City and international victories in Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, China, England, France, Germany, Croatia, Hungary and Denmark. In his brief collegiate career running for Florida State, Marvin had big indoor 60-meter wins in 2013 at the Arkansas Razorback Invitational, Tyson Invitational and ACC Indoor Championships. In 2011 Marvin won at 100 meters at the USA Track and Field Junior Championships, adidas Grand Prix ‘Dream 100’ and Pan Am Juniors. He was named to the All-USA high school track and field team by USA Today in 2010 and 2011. The two-sport star participated in the 2012 Under Armour All-America Football Game. He was the 2012 Orlando Sentinel Athlete of the Year. Marvin won five FHSAA Florida Class 4A titles at 100 and 200 meters and won 33 straight races while competing for Boone High School. His personal best times are: 55 meters – 6.08; 60 meters - 6.44; 100 meters – 9.85 (9.80 wind-aided); 200 meters – 20.55 and 4x100m relay – 37.55. Marvin is a professional athlete sponsored by Nike and lives and trains in the Orlando, Florida area. He was generous to spend an hour and twenty minutes on the phone in January 2024.
GCR: BIG PICTURE Ten years ago, when we did an in-depth interview, you were a twenty-year-old new professional athlete coming off a Silver Medal at the World Indoor Championships at 60 meters. The last decade has seen a winding pathway for you with more U.S. indoor championships at 60 meters, breaking ten seconds for 100 meters, making the 2016 Olympic team, Olympic disappointment and injuries, moving from track to football, returning to track, covid cancelling meets, breaking 9.9 seconds for 100 meters, injuries stopping your quest for an Olympic return, a World Indoor Bronze at 60 meters, a World Outdoor Silver at 100 meters and another Silver in the 4 x 100 meter relay and a lackluster 2023 season. I am reminded of a line in a John Lennon song that says, ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.’ Could you have imagined these twists and turns or were you expecting a smoother trajectory?
MB When I was twenty years old, I wasn’t in line to be an Olympic champion or to run multiple 100-meter times in the ‘nine seconds.’ Nothing was easy, but I couldn’t have anticipated such a bright and amazing career. Ten years have been very revealing. There have been blessings, both positively and negatively. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
GCR: The biggest highlight of the last decade for you must be the 2022 World Championships. How exciting was it to bring home Silver Medals at 100 meters, where the U.S. had their first sweep since 1991 and to share a Silver Medal in the 4 x 100-meter relay with your teammates?
MB 2022 was one of the greatest years of my life, not only because of the on the track success, but since it came at the most opportunistic time for me. My children’s mom gave birth to my daughter on December 16th of 2022, which was the day after my birthday. So, throughout the course of that season I knew that I had a baby on the way. The year was a perfect time.
GCR: It was so close in the 100 meters with Fred Kerley winning in 9.86 seconds and you and Travon Bromell both at 9.88 seconds with you nipping him by a thousandth of a second for the Silver Medal. Can you take us through the race where you took the lead early in the race and held it until Fred Kerley caught you about five or ten meters from the finish?
MB After the semifinals, I looked at everyone’s times and how they executed their race, and I believed that I was going to win the World Championships final. I set it up very well and it was one of my best executed races from about zero to ninety-five meters. When I race people a lot, I know their tendencies and how they move. I did know that at some point Fred would make a move. When I got about five meters away from the finish, I saw the line and knew that I was about to win. Instead of letting the race and the line come to me, I started to go and get it. Any sprinter in this sport where there are close quarters has that tendency to go after it because we want the race to be over while we are in the front. That is where I got caught lacking. Fred finished through the line and that is why he won the race, and I ended up second.
GCR: I have heard sprinters discuss a necessary balance between a high intensity to go fast while also being relaxed at the same time. You’re talking about needing that balance, aren’t you?
MB Yes, it’s a skill that not everybody possesses. There have been races where I kept my cool but, in a moment like that when everything is on the line, it’s a very high intensity moment where that calmness I’m searching for is in a small window of opportunity. I am presented with the opportunity to keep my cool or lose it. That happens so quickly. I have to process it on the move. I’m in the front, then he is next to me. I must react, then the finish line is approaching, and I go to get it. Instead of holding off for one more revolution of my legs, I started tilting over to bring the line to me. Fred moved more efficiently and that is the difference between winning and losing races.
GCR: In the 4 x 100-meter relay, the USA had the fastest quartet with three 100-meter medalists, but our first handoff was a bit shaky while Canada had better handoffs to earn the Gold Medal. Was it rewarding to at least get the stick around the track and take home the Silver Medal, or totally disappointing to not bring home Gold?
MB This will sound so ungrateful, but that was not fun taking the Silver Medal for the reasons you stated. We swept the 100-meter dash, so taking Silver in the relay was the biggest letdown in American track and field history. We were also in front of the home crowd and had our adrenaline flowing. We swept the 200 meters as well and had six sprint medals. Losing the relay like that was a letdown. I felt, as an athlete, that there was more I could have done. Maybe I could have executed a better leg. As the anchor of the team, we are selected in that position to right all the wrongs of the previous three legs. I saw the whole race. I saw where we were. I knew what I needed to do. I tip my hat to Andre DeGrasse because he ran a great anchor leg. But I felt there was something more I could have done to will the team to victory.
GCR: After such a strong 2022 season, the next year was what we can classify as an off year. Did other parts of life, such as having your second child, changing agents and coaches, and getting a new contract cause 2023 to not be as spectacular as 2022?
MB I put a lot of pressure on myself to rewrite the 2022 season. Changes affect us but, as an athlete, I have to keep my house in order so that I can be the best athlete I can be. I did move my family from Jacksonville to Clermont where I would be training. There was a lot going on, but I’m not going to make excuses for poor performances. I ran a couple of ‘nine-second’ races. I went out in the first round at the USA Championships and that is something with which I must live. It was due to me not being as focused as possible. I wasn’t as diligent as I could be because I let the off the track activities bother me. In this sport, we all have the physical tools to be the best. It’s all mental.
GCR: Since 2024 is an Olympic year and all sights are set on Paris, how tough is it going to be to make the U.S. team at 100 meters with Fred Kerley, Travon Bromell, 2023 World Champ Noah Lyles, 1999 World Champ Christian Coleman, and you, plus young talent aiming to knock any of you off the team as the U.S. is probably as strong and deep as ever at 100 meters?
MB Making the U.S. team will probably be harder than winning the Olympics. That is crazy to say, but making the team is such a hard feat. We have to train to be ready on that day. That is June 21st and June 22nd of 2024. The rest of the world is preparing to see us in August. It is going to be hard not just because of the timing, but because of all the athletes you mentioned. On the line we will probably have the 2019 World Champion, the 2022 World Champion, the 2023 World Champion, the 2022 Silver Medalist – so many talented runners all trying to dethrone each other. It will be a high intensity moment. In moments like that, it comes down to who can keep calm better than the rest and execute their race plan.
GCR: Christian Coleman and you tend to race sixty meters indoors while most of your competitors wait to race until outdoor season. Are you going to run indoors in 2024 or wait?
MB Since I changed coaches last year and Coach Mitchell isn’t a big proponent of indoor racing, I’m not going to race indoors this year. I would love to because I feel that any year I have raced indoors, it has been very conducive to what I tried to get done outdoors. But Coach Mitchell wants me to take some time early this year for his program to take effect so we will be ready for the outdoor season. As an athlete, I must trust my coach and his philosophy and go with his plan. So, this year I won’t be racing indoors. I can see myself returning to indoor racing in the future.
GCR: What are the little things you are focusing on with tips from Coach Mitchell and your training partners to work on with your start, acceleration to top speed, arm motion, breathing and holding your speed endurance all the way through the finish line to help you to improve your personal best and to be super consistent from race to race so that people know that, when Marvin Bracy lines up, they are in more trouble than ever before?
MB You mentioned a couple of magic words. Consistency is predicated on how mentally sound I am as an athlete. I have to be able to go out there and implement the race plan we have formulated to the best of my abilities. That is where consistency comes in. As far as the speed endurance, that comes from my workouts and consistency in practice. That is an aspect that Dennis has preached to me. I can see from the workouts that he has a lot of 100 meter / 200-meter runners. It’s no secret that I have shied away from the 200 meters. I don’t thoroughly love it or enjoy it, so I have stayed away. But we are doing some over distance training to help rid me from locking up at the end of races. This sport is very mental. We all have the talent, and it is about who can keep mentally strong enough in that moment as we are next to guys who are equally talented. As you mentioned, this is as deep as the 100-meter field has ever been, especially in America. There could be so many different combinations of guys who make the team for the Paris Olympics. This year is about how strong we can be mentally when it matters the most.
GCR: It's interesting that you mentioned running both the 100 meters and 200 meters. Of course, I was a distance runner Marvin, and I ran the mile and two-mile in high school when I raced for Miami Carol City. When I ran the mile, I had the mentality that it seemed short compared to then two-mile. Then when I ran the two-mile, I thought it seemed slow compared to the mile. When you are racing, can do get a similar mentality where in the 100 meters it seems so short that, bam, it’s done while in the 200 meters it seems slow and easy? Do you get a mentality like I did in the mile and two-mile when you do the 100 meters and 200 meters?
MB Not exactly because I haven’t run enough 200-meter races lately. My biggest challenge when I run the 200 meters is running the curve. I had that problem in high school as well but, because I was faster than most people, I was able to run an okay curve and keep myself in contention to win the race. At this level, a 200-meter athlete has to run 19.7 seconds to be competitive. That takes a lot of diligence and execution that I don’t possess because I don’t run the event enough. Could I some day run that fast if I trained hard? I think that I could but these guys are running video game times, 19.3s and 19.5s and 19.6s, like it is nothing. It takes years of work. I’m way behind the eight ball. The 200 meters for me will be about execution. If I can keep myself in a good position off the curve, I have a fair shot at running a decent time. If I start racing guys who can run 19.7 seconds and faster, they have years and years of experience in those moments. It isn’t as much the distance as I don’t think I have ever properly executed a 200-meter race on a curve.
GCR: When you set your goals, are they focused on running certain times, aiming to beat specific athletes, winning or medaling at global competitions, or to do all the little things to be your best and then the outcomes will be what they will be?
MB The ultimate goal is to be the Olympic 100-meter champion. That is everybody’s goal going into this season. However you slice it, the goal is to be the Olympic 100-meter champion. But personal goals for me are to challenge myself every day and every race to be the best athlete I can be. If I can beat the times I ran before, I can at least say, ‘I’m a better athlete than I was in the previous competition.’ I have spent a lot of time in my career focusing on beating certain people. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. If I am focused on beating a guy and I lose, it makes it that much worse. We can also get distracted from our race plan when we are racing somebody rather than trying to execute our race plan and beating our previous self.
GCR: That reminds me of the 2023 World Championships 100 meters women’s race when there was so much attention on lanes four, five and six, while Sha’Carri Richardson snuck up in lane nine when no one was watching her.
MB Props to her. She stayed true to the training grind. She did exactly what she needed to do when it was absolutely needed the most. She set herself up to have a big season this year. As a sprinter, it is extremely hard to not be in mindset where we are overly aggressive. We want to beat our competition. Any athlete who tells you that he or she doesn’t is lying. We want to beat competitors, but we want to beat all of them. That is the mindset we need to be in – to beat all people. But, at the end of the day, the most important person in that race is the person in your lane. If you can stay locked into that person and execute your race, when you are ready to run fast, you are going to win anyway.
GCR: When we compare new professional athlete twenty-year-old Marvin Bracy in 2014 with seasoned professional thirty-year-old Marvin Bracy in 2024, what are the differences in your approach to training, nutrition and other aspects of life that have given you the experience and wisdom for the present and the next few years to be your best as an athlete?
MB When I first started this journey, I didn’t know what professional track and field meant. I was nineteen years old when I came into the professional track and field game, and I didn’t know what I was walking myself into. I didn’t know the talent some of these dudes possessed. It’s like in any sport where you are now amongst the one percenters. You are amongst athletes just like you. Every town in every state has athletes who are far superior to other people. But, when you get to the professional level, you are amongst athletes who were elite amongst their elite. I didn’t know what I was getting into. I didn’t know about nutrition. I didn’t know about executing races. I was merely running. My ignorance was blissful for a while because I didn’t feel pressure. I didn’t feel that I had to achieve any certain level. I was running on pure talent. As I grew in the sport, I started to learn certain tricks of the trade and how to apply myself now to give myself the best possible chance to win races. So, the big answer is growth. I grew a lot as a person, as a father, as an athlete and as a man in general. Now I am more mindful of how I train, what I eat, how I stretch and treatments I have in place to ensure I am healthy.
GCR: HIGHLIGHTS FROM 2014 TO 2023 After your strong 2014 indoor season when you earned the World Championships Silver Medal at 60 meters and we did an in-depth interview, you didn’t make the final at the U.S. Outdoor Championships before heading to Europe. What was it like to be a young twenty-year-old racing in places like Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, and Italy and to be both a world traveler and a world racer?
MB We have to reflect back on when I was growing up in Orlando in the Parramore area. I never thought of the big picture. I didn’t think about traveling. At first, I took what I was doing for granted and I say that regrettably. When I first started racing, I wasn’t overly excited about jumping on planes and traveling. I would usually chill out in my room, race, and then go to the next city. It wasn’t until I walked away from the sport for three years that I looked back and realized that my life was a blessing to be able to go to these places and do what I was doing. But while I was traveling and racing, it felt like business to me. I was on a business trip for one thing and one thing only and that was to race. I figured I would do the other sightseeing later.
GCR: In 2015 you rounded into strong form indoors at 60 meters as you won the Millrose Games in 6.53 seconds and defended your U.S. Championship in 6.55 seconds. How exciting was it to win the prestigious Millrose Games and what was it like repeating and winning your second straight U.S. Championship with a target on you?
MB When that happened was when I started learning more about the history of track and field and growing in the sport. That was big for me. I was no longer the flashy rookie. I was one full year into the game and there were other athletes coming to knock me off the ‘throne’ of the U.S. 60 meters. When I pulled off that defense of my win, that was very big for me.
GCR: Breaking through a time threshold is always a goal for a runner. How exciting was it to break ten seconds for 100 meters for the first time as you won the Beijing IAAF World Challenge in 9.95 seconds? Did you see your name flash up on the board and you said ‘Yes!?’
MB I have a picture which was a gift to me that commemorates that day. Coincidently, that was May 20, 2015, and my son was born May 20, 2018. Maybe May 20th is my good luck day. I was looking at that picture recently and that is the race I go back to because it was a breakthrough. I didn’t know that was going to happen on that day. If you go back and look at my season before that race, my best time was about 10.11. It was big for me. You can go back and look at the video and see that I thought I had lost the race. I thought Mike Rodgers had won. When I crossed the line and saw the time, I thought that if he had run 9.95, then I had to at least run 9.99 since it was close. I would have been happy breaking ten seconds and assessing from there. When they came up to me and gave me the bouquet of flowers that went to the winner, I thought, ‘Oh wow! I ran 9.95!’ Since that was my first time under ten seconds, 9.95 was huge.
GCR: Less than three weeks later at the Birmingham British Athletics Grand Prix you won your heat in 9.97 and won the final in 9.93 seconds. Were you running under control in your heat and how did it feel to know you had the strength to go sub-ten seconds twice in one day?
MB That confidence came from my race in China when I broke ten seconds and knew that now I was in ‘nine-second’ shape. In my mind was the fact that, if I executed my race to my ability, I could run 9.95 or better. It became a personal challenge to me as an athlete to come out and be the best that I could be. I also knew that, if I came out and executed my race plan and ran 9.95, it would be hard for people to beat me. When I saw the 9.97 in the prelims, I thought, ‘Oh, yes!’ It’s because, in track and field when you break ten seconds, it isn’t totally respected until you do it again. To break ten seconds again in a Diamond League race made me think, ‘Oh, wow! I am a nine-second athlete.’ Now I knew I would run a time that started with nine seconds, but how far under ten seconds is what we were about to find out.
GCR: In late June at the U.S. Championships, you looked promising in your heat as you tied your 9.93 personal best but couldn’t continue due to injury. Can you relate what happened and how disappointing it must have been?
MB When we go back and look at that Diamond League meet in England we were just talking about, when I ran 9.93 to win the final, I hurt my hamstring in that race. I was hoping it was more like a strain, but it was a grade one or grade two tear that didn’t have proper time to heal before the U.S. Championships. Then I pulled it when I was warming up at USAs. Going into the heats, it was already pulled but I was there and decided to see what I had in the tank.
GCR: After recovering from injury and resuming training, you were back to your typical self indoors at 60 meters in 2016. What was it like in the finals of the U.S. Championships as Travon Bromell and you were both timed in 6.51 seconds but, when the officials went to the photo finish, you emerged victorious with a three-peat by five one-thousandths of a second, 6.502 to 6.507 seconds? And could you tell that you won?
MB It was so close, and we were separated on the track as I was in lane four and he was in lane eight. I couldn’t see or feel where he was. In the race video, I looked to his side at the tape because I knew he would finish strong. It was a big story because he’s a Florida guy and I’m a Florida guy. He was from the high school class of 2013, and I was from the class of 2012. He went on to have a big season in 2015 and get a medal. It was a clash on a professional level of two young guys in the sport going wire to wire at the finish line. It was totally dope for me to pull off that moment.
GCR: In that meet, you improved from 6.57 in your heat to 6.54 in your semifinal, before running 6.51 in the final. Could you feel the difference in speed from round to round as you improved by three hundredths of a second each time or are you just blasting the start, accelerating, and running through the tape?
MB To answer that, I have to take you back so we can look at the 2016 indoor season in totality. What a lot of people don’t know is that I had been playing flag football with some friends that I went to high school with, and I ended up rolling my ankle. My coach found out what had happened and told me that indoor season was cancelled, and we were going to focus on getting healthy and running outdoors. So, I was not happy. Then I started looking better in practice. Coach Brauman said, ‘Since you are looking good, let’s have you go to this Last Chance meet in Staten Island. If you run the USAs standard qualifying time of 6.65 or better, I’ll let you go and defend your title.’ I ran 6.62 at the Staten Island meet and that is how I got into USAs. When I saw 6.57 in the heats, I thought, ‘Okay, I’m ready to move.’ As the rounds progressed, I wasn’t trying to run faster. It happened because I was starting to get more comfortable.
GCR: At the World Indoor Championships that year, you raced identical times as at USAs in the heat at 6.57 and semifinals at 6.54 seconds. What was the difference in the final where you only ran 6.56 seconds and ended up in seventh place as it took 6.51 to score a medal?
MB When we look at the results from the heats and semifinals, Asafa Powell had run 6.44 in both rounds, and I was in one of his sections. So, he had raced 6.44 seconds against me. I knew that it was going to take faster than 6.51 to win in the final. In my first two races there, it was just happening. In the final, I went out there in the moment and tried to run 6.44 or better to win. When you try to run fast, it typically doesn’t happen.
GCR: It sounds similar to the 2022 World Championships 100 meters when you tried to get the finish line to come to you and it didn’t happen. Was it a similar feeling?
MB Yes, you start doing things you shouldn’t. In that moment, I know that Asafa Powell is ready to run 6.44 or better. In my mind, I’m thinking, ‘Okay, 6.44 or better.’ And when you start chasing times, it goes left.
GCR: Since 2016 was an Olympic year, focus is on making the team. What was the feeling like at the Olympic Trials when you crossed the line in third place in 9.98 seconds, two hundredths of a second ahead of Mike Rodgers, and realized you had achieved the Olympic dream? Was it a moment of exhilaration as you were down on the track?
MB Because it was so close at the finish, I didn’t know if I was in third place or not. Mike Rodgers, Tyson Gay, and I all crossed at about the same time. When I crossed, I looked over at them. I knew it was very close and I didn’t think I did come in third. I wasn’t in my best shape to go out and make it happen. After we hit the tape, I squatted down and was looking at the results board. The announcer was saying, ‘I think Marvin Bracy might have snuck in there for third.’ I was looking at the screen and, when I saw my name pop up, I went numb. I couldn’t believe it. The Olympic Trials was only my fourth race outdoors. That season I had a double inguinal hernia, and I was taking cortisone to relieve the symptoms. It wasn’t my best season, and I wasn’t in the best of shape, so to go out there and make the team was jaw-dropping.
GCR: Athletics has its ups and downs, and with you working through the hernia and taking cortisone, how disappointing was it when you couldn’t be at the top of your game at the Rio Olympics?
MB I’m not going to attribute my lack of performing well to my shape. Physically I was there, and it was an incredible experience. But mentally, compared to how I am now, I was not ready to be on an Olympic podium. I was twenty-two years old, needed to go through that process, and let everything set me up later in life to be more mature and ready to take on that role.
GCR: Were you able to enjoy watching other track and field events, other sports and sightseeing a bit in Brazil?
MB I did all of that and sometimes to my detriment. I went to many basketball games and volleyball games. I wish I could have gone to some swimming events, but I did move around.
GCR: While track and field athletes were formulating plans for the 2017 and 2019 World Championships, you switched gears and gave professional football a serious try after five years away from the sport. How did you make this decision and how tough was it to make an NFL team as evidenced by your short stints in the Indianapolis Colts training camp in 2017 and the Seattle Seahawks in 2018?
MB Since this is a two-part question, there is a two-part answer. First, it came down to unfinished business and because it was the final year of my contract. I felt that I had outperformed the contract I was under, and I wanted an increase in the compensation. The powers to be didn’t feel the same way I felt about my situation. They were going to implement an option year in my contract. I came off the double inguinal hernia and had surgery for that on May 31 of 2017. I wasn’t going to make the U.S. team and, the way option years work, is it was a ‘prove it’ year. They were going to reassess how I did after the 2017 season and tell me what compensation they felt I was worth. It wasn’t going to be what I thought I was worth, so I made a conscious decision to go and take care of some unfinished business which was going to play football. I knew I could get on a practice squad and make more money than what track was paying. That is how the decision came about. As far as being in the game and navigating it myself, that was probably the toughest athletic work I have ever had to deal with. I tip my hat to football players. What they go through is different to get their bodies right in their whole training process. I give them props because it was very hard.
GCR: After that NFL experience, you came back to your home town and your final attempt at pro football was with the Orlando Apollos of the Alliance of American Football coached by Steve Spurrier in 2019 and you suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in their first game. Where were you at physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially as you transitioned back to track and field?
MB Physically I was fed up with where I was. If there was ever a sign that football wasn’t for me, this was it. Mentally, I was done with the sport of football because, when I did come back from that shoulder injury, that is when the league folded. Financially, I was in the worst shape I have ever been in during my entire adult life. So, I made the decision that, since I was still fast, I could go back to track and field. I thought that I could truly dedicate myself to track and field and see what could come about.
GCR: Who was coaching you on the comeback trail and what did you do differently as you built your running back from ground zero?
MB My new coach ended up being my old coach. I went back to Lance Brauman. How that happened was that I reached out to my former agent and told him my plans and that I was coming back. We patched up the relationship. I reached out to Lance Brauman and told him I was returning to track and field. He was more than willing to have me as part of the training group. That jump-started the process. I dd have to lose about sixteen to eighteen pounds to get my body back right for running. What I had to do differently was to apply myself every day. When I was a younger athlete, I didn’t apply myself every day. If there was a day for training on block starts where I knew I would do well, I would come out with a good mentality. But if it was a day with a longer, hard workout, I would stay in the back and keep my mouth shut, go through the motions, and go from there. This time around, I told myself that I was going to be more dedicated and more willing to put in the work to be the best that I could be.
GCR: Once again, we have to talk about indoor season as the 2020 season started and that is where you shine. Was it surprising that you were able to run a personal best of 6.49 at the USA Championships for a second place behind Christian Coleman? Was the feeling that you were back as you now readied for outdoor season?
MB I tell people all the time that particular race saved my life and saved my career. The week before that I ran 6.67 at the Millrose Games and got fourth place. Then a week later at the U.S. Championships I run 6.49, which is the second fastest time in my career after a three-year layoff and finish in second place to the World Record Holder himself. If I’m going to lose to anybody, at least have it be the World Record Holder. That is when Nike reached out and extended a contract to me. That is how the ball got rolling and how I got back into track and field as a whole. As I said, that particular race saved my life and career.
GCR: What was it like when covid cancelled the remainder of the 2020 season? Did you change your focus from racing specifics to more general fitness so you would be stronger and less susceptible to injury when racing resumed?
MB In that process I ended up changing coaches. Because I was now with Nike, and Lance Brauman was an adidas affiliated coach, I was no longer able to train there. Since I had to go elsewhere, my next stop was Jacksonville, Florida under Coach Rana Reider. I spent three seasons in his training group. People don’t know something because I didn’t talk about it publicly but, during that process my appendix ruptured in July of 2020. I had surgery to correct that and had a blockage in my lower intestine. The doctors did an exploratory laparotomy. That ended my 2020 season so covid kind of saved me. It gave me another year to get my body back right and my mind back right. So, when we got to 2021, I was sharper.
GCR: In 2021 you raced often in April and May, it appears to get in racing fitness, before blasting a big personal best of 9.85 seconds at the NACAC New Life Invitational. What were the primary factors that allowed you to race so much faster and to go sub-9.9 seconds for the first time?
MB As far as racing, I was trying to establish a rhythm. I wasn’t running very fast. There was even a 10.63 in there that I ran. There was a 10.59 with negative wind. I did run a 10.11 at a home track meet. I was trying to find my stride and trying to figure out how to race 100 meters again. I wasn’t in the sport in 2019 and I only ran two 100-meter races in 2020, finding out right afterward that I needed surgery. So, in 2021 I was trying to figure out who I was as a 100-meter runner. That is what it was about. The public just saw me running races and putting up bad times as they tried to assess what was going on. For me, I was trying to build confidence and rhythm. When I did run that 9.85, my coach had been telling me beforehand that I was capable of running that fast. I had seen it on paper, but it shot my confidence through the roof when I executed that 9.85 race. I knew what I could run in races, and it was perfect timing two weeks before the U.S. Championships.
GCR: With your improved speed, how tough was it when you started strong with a ten flat in your heat and then were injured at the Olympic Trials and didn’t make the Tokyo Olympic team? After coming into the Olympic Trials ready to run fast, what was that like mentally, emotionally, and physically?
MB For about four days afterward I felt broken. I was right there, and it was so close. The Olympics are a life-changing opportunity. Contractually, that was the last year on my contract with Nike. They had the option to extend me with an option year in 2022, which would have benefitted me with a steady flow of income and an opportunity to prove and show what I’m worth. So, that’s how option years can help. But I did need to put down some good times so, they might not give me big money, but they would still give me an option year to see what I could do in the 2022 season.
GCR: You recovered quickly and had some great races to close out the season as you ran 9.85 again in Memphis and won four times in Europe as you closed your season with a 9.86 clocking in Croatia at Zagreb. Despite not making the Olympic team, did you feel that ‘Marvin Bracy is back’?
MB After the Trials, I had two or three poor races and then something snapped, and I went off. That is exactly what those races did for me. I found out what that meant when I got back to America the day after the race in Croatia. My agent called me with good news that Nike was going to extend me for another year, and I had an opportunity to have a crack at running well the next year to show them what I could do. That was exactly the opportunity I needed, and it took me into the 2022 season.
GCR: We spoke earlier about your Silver Medal performance at the 2022 World Championships outdoors. You mentioned that a good indoor season is usually like a springboard for you to run well outdoors. Four months earlier, you were amazingly consistent at 60 meters indoors as your five races at the U.S. Championships and World Championships ranged from 6.52 seconds down to a personal best of 6.44 for a World Championships Bronze Medal. How rewarding was it to earn another world indoor medal, eight years after your first one, and was this a signal that there were great things to come outdoors?
MB It's crazy because I did earn a medal, but it wasn’t the one I wanted. During that indoor season, I was supposed to be part of a nice lineup at the Millrose Games. About ten days before the meet, I felt something in my hamstring. We still decided to run at Millrose to see where I was. The day before the race I was practicing block starts and felt a tweak in my hamstring again and we shut it down. When I got back to Jacksonville, Coach Reider told me that we were going to scrap the regular indoor season races, open at the U.S. Championships, run fast, go to Worlds and win. When he said that, I thought it was ridiculous. I said, ‘Bro, that doesn’t happen. We don’t just snap into shape at sixty meters.’ The sixty-meter race is all repetition. But we put our plan in motion. Indoor races came and went. I was seeing other runners run fast times. I was low-key and a little sulky, but I was trying to buy into the plan. And we did just that. At the U.S. Championships, I equaled my best time of 6.48 seconds, and my coach told me, ‘See, that is what I said we were going to do.’ Then I went to Worlds intent on winning. I ran the first two rounds with a 6.46 personal best and a 6.51 shutting down. I was thinking, ‘Okay, I’m ready to do some damage.’ In the final I ran 6.44 for another personal best and that was all I could do as it took a 6.41 to win.
GCR: Not only did you earn the 2022 World Championships Silver Medal at 100 meters, but you also had consistency as you raced under 9.9 seconds four more times. What were you doing that led to many top-level performances and what changed in 2022 so that 9.8s were where you raced often and 9.9s were your slower races?
MB It builds a totally different level of confidence. The feeling is like being on a high. I knew when I stepped on the track that I was going to break ten seconds. It took the pressure off trying to go under ten seconds. People don’t realize that only a hundred sixty or a hundred seventy people in the history of mankind have ever broken ten seconds. When you do it, especially in a season and you see it on paper, you are vindicated. I know that the races I’m running are ‘nine-second runs.’ If I line up and do the exact same thing, I know that I can run in the 9.9s. Then, if I get a little bit better, I know that I can run faster – 9.85 or 9.86 or whatever I can run. It builds this insane level of confidence and I run with that.
GCR: WRAPUP AND FINAL COMMENTS After the financial unknowns you faced when you switched from football back to track and field, what has it been like since you scored the 2022 World Championships Silver Medal as far as your annual contract and appearance fees? Has this allowed you to have financial security so you don’t have to worry so much about supporting your family and paying bills and you can focus on your training and racing?
MB Before the 2022 season, I was making less than a teacher. That is bad to say because teachers deserve much more money. I was trying to compete with the fastest men in the world and be the best athlete I could be despite this. After earning a medal and having other successful races, I ran myself into much more money. I’m able to afford certain amenities for myself and for my family. Like you said, it brings me a level of peace so I’m not waking up every day having to run fast and having to perform which creates a lot of pressure. That creates enhanced stress and, in this sport, we don’t want to run under those circumstances. That’s why in track and field the same people that run fast one year keep running fast from year to year. Every so often there is a new competitor. But it is the athletes who are financially stable. They can afford certain treatments and have peace of mind when they go home. It’s like that now as I want to run fast, but I don’t have to. That allows me to run fast and has aided me going forward, especially going into an Olympic year.
GCR: Looking ahead a bit, a former competitor, Justin Gatlin, was still competing at age thirty-eight. What will you do to stay healthy and fast to compete through the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics when you will be 34 years old and possibly through to the 2032 Olympics where you will be the ripe, old age of thirty-eight?
MB The goal for me is to compete through the 2028 Olympics. That will be my last one and my last professional track and field season – win, lose or draw. If I am still running insanely fast times like Justin Gatlin or Shelly-Ann Fraser Price were doing in their mid-thirties, I may reconsider. But, by that time I will have a five-year-old and a ten-year-old child. I thoroughly enjoy being a dad and being around my kids. I would like to allot a great deal of time to them and to what they are doing. My son starts his first baseball t-ball practice in two days. I am a very hands on, active parent when it comes to my kids. I’m embedded in one they do. God willing, I’ll make it in running through 2028 and that will be my last season and I will spend more time around my kids.
GCR: What goals do you have for yourself after you hang up your track spikes? Does it involve coaching, speaking to youth groups, mentoring at groups like the Boys and Girls Club or other pursuits so you can take your experiences and help others?
MB I plan on coaching football, hopefully at a professional level at sometime in my career when it’s all said and done. I am in love with the sport of football. It was one of the first areas where I was passionate and I’m not enthusiastic about many things. I want to take that and do something with it in this life. I want to coach and will start at the high school level if I have to. I’ve been making some football connections so I can segue that way when my running career is over.
GCR: Since you started out in professional track and field at the youthful age of nineteen, what advice do you give to young professional runners, like Erriyon Knighton, so they can avoid some of the learning curve you had as a young pro at age twenty?
MB Erriyon Knighton is someone I do have a personal relationship with. I thoroughly enjoy him. He reminds me of myself, but with much more talent at that age. He has been doing some incredible racing and it is dope to see. Any time he asks me questions, I remind him to make sure he is applying himself every day. I tell him not to get lost in the sauce as we get caught on autopilot sometimes in regular life, sports, and business. You get away from making sure the main focus is the main emphasis. He’s young and probably wants to enjoy himself but, when you sign a professional contract, you give a lot of that up. You’re one of us now. You’re a professional athlete. There are certain things you can’t do and places you can’t go when you want to. I tell him, ‘Sorry, Erriyon. You can’t be a normal seventeen, eighteen or nineteen-year-old kid. You happen to be one of the most talented people to grace the face of this earth.’
GCR: What advice do you give to teenagers who are competing in football, track and field or both to help them be their best on the field of competition while maintaining good grades in the classroom?
MB I am not the spokesperson for good grade credentials. I didn’t like school that much. When it comes to that perspective, I think of my little brother who went through the recruitment process when he was playing basketball at Boone High School. I talked to him about it so I would limit him from making my mistakes. As far as athletics, I tell kids that, if they want to play at the next level, they must totally learn their sport. Athletes are getting paid and are very dedicated to their craft. I found that out when I got to Florida State. I realized that these dudes are for real. I found that everybody is ‘you’ in their town or city. As you move up to a higher level, you are fighting with the best of the best within your sport. That makes it much harder. It’s easy to lose sight of yourself and of the process when you’re working against athletes who are trying to go to the next level.
GCR: When you think back about each of your football and track coaches in high school and college, and your coaches as a professional runner, what is one concept or big principle each instilled in you that has made you physically, mentally, or emotionally a better athlete and competitor?
MB Each coach had a hand in who I am today. In high school, I found a love for track and field. Josh Shearouse was my coach at Boone, and he was also the defensive backs coach on the football team. He was so cool – one of the coolest dudes I’ve ever met to this day. I don’t think Josh knew that much about track, but he knew enough, kept me in line and we did some great things. I also had a personal coach in high school, Ricky Argro, who is now the sprints coach at Florida State. I was at Florida State for such a brief time because of the coach at the time, Ken Harnden. We had a disagreement when I got hurt in a race. Some words were said, and I didn’t like how that made me feel. So, I took it upon myself to sign a professional contract and to get out of there. That is how my professional track and field journey got started. Coach Lance Brauman got the knucklehead version of me. I was raw to the sport and didn’t know what track and field had to offer and how to apply myself. I just knew to come to practice and go home. I wasn’t stretching at home. Once I clocked out, I clocked out. So, Coach Brauman had to deal with the talented me, but not the most professional me. When I came back to the sport, Coach Rana Reider taught me how to be a real, true, professional track and field athlete. That is how I took that next stride toward being the best that I could be because I knew how to approach each day as a professional and how to apply myself. I told Dennis Mitchell that I may have joined his training group late in my career, but he got the best version of me. The thirty-year-old version of me as a track and field athlete is the best version of me in totality because I have learned so much. I know how to apply myself, stay away from distractions and train to do what I need to do.
GCR: I know you are a big Kevin Hart fan and you have expressed to me in the past that you would like to be a comedian but weren’t sure if you had what it takes. Have you tried any stand-up comedy on an open mike night, and could this be in your future?
MB I’ve never tried stand-up comedy. I wouldn’t be opposed to doing an open mike night to give it a try. I would need to come up with a bit or some material. I think I’m a funny guy and a lot of people around me think I’m funny. It’s something I’m open to.
  Inside Stuff
First thing you do in the morning The very first thing is to walk my dog. I have a nine-year-old Pit Bull and her name is ‘Skylra’
Pre-race music I listen to music before I do anything, so definitely before a race. On race day I’m already listening to music on the way to breakfast
Oddest thing a coach ever said to you I once was told that I didn’t have a good start. I don’t know if he was trying to test me, but the way he said it was condescending. I looked at him and was thinking, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about.’ I may not have the best start in the world, but I have a good start
Favorite video games I don’t have the attention span for video games. My son plays my video games more than I do. I have the games and am sitting in front of them as we speak. But I can’t remember the last time I turned it on. I can’t get into it. I don’t have the bandwidth to sit in front of a screen all day
Last music concert you attended The last one I went to was in 2016 and it was a Justin Bieber concert, unbelievably. It was in Portland, Oregon. The most recent show I went to was Dave Chappell. He did stand-up comedy in Orlando a few weeks ago
Junk food you can’t resist There are two – Reese’s Pieces and gummy bears. For some reason, I can’t shake them. If I go into a store like 7-Eleven, I might get both
Most annoying habit I am a super annoying person, but in a good way. What I mean by that is that I love to bother the people that I’m cool with. I’ll be very intense and in their face. I joke and play all day and am never very serious. The people who are close to me are bothered by it, but I don’t ever give a dang if they like it or not
Favorite Halloween costume I think it was in 2021 when I was living in Jacksonville. I came to Orlando and went to downtown dressed as ‘The Front Man’ from ‘Squid Game.’ It was one of those times as an adult where I was able to celebrate Halloween the way I wanted to
Favorite birthday memory This is going to sound sad, but my favorite birthday memory was my twenty-seventh birthday. It wasn’t because it was anything special because of what I did, but more so the fact that my dad was only twenty-six when he died. To outlive a parent was a traumatic experience. The fact that I saw the year that I passed him was big to me because, when I was growing up, I had a fear that I might not see past twenty-six. Nobody would have thought that would have happened, but it did
Worst cooking experience Yes, yes, there is one and this is recent. I thought I had everything I needed when I was preparing this dish. It was on the stove, and I thought I had turned the burner off. I live close to a target store, and I ran to Target to get what I needed. I had turned it on low, but I was gone so long that I burned the entire dish I was making. It was a nightmare
Favorite cartoon The Fairly OddParents
TV reality show desire When I see the people on ‘Survivor,’ I don’t want any problems like they have. I don’t think I have what it takes. I don’t possess what it takes for ‘Survivor.’ When I was growing up, I wanted to be on the ‘Wipe Out’ show
Favorite movie line Since Kevin Hart is one of my favorite comedians, I’m a big fan of the movie, ‘Think Like a Man.’ There is a scene where all the guys are at one of their mom’s houses. He came in and said, ‘Michael, how’s your mom?’ Michael says, ‘What?’ And he responds, ‘No, it’s not like that… okay, it is.’ That whole scene is my favorite, but that is my favorite line
Worst date ever I once left a date because she was fifteen minutes late. She had let me know she would be late, but not within a reasonable amount of time. I’m always on time or early, so it was more about the principle. I’m thinking that if this was our first date and she couldn’t be on time, what was it going to be like later?
Choose a Superhero – Batman or Spiderman If I have to choose, I’ve got to go with Spider-Man
Choose a theme park – Disney World or Universal Studios I’m more of a Universal Studios kind of guy. I’m going there tonight
Choose a Sylvester Stallone - Rocky or Rambo Rocky, for sure
Choose a quarterback – Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson This is the hardest question of the night. I’m torn. I appreciate greatness. It is terrible to see either of them lose, but I’m rolling with Lamar Jackson this week (note – this interview was held before the AFC Championship game as the Chiefs beat the Ravens 17-10)
Choose the beach or mountains I’m a beach guy. I hate open water, but I would choose the beach. I don’t go to the mountains. I’m not a nature kind of guy
Choose a tough guy – Vin Diesel or The Rock I’m going to have to go with The Rock – no question
Choose Movie coolness – James Bond 007 or IMF Agent Ethan Hunt I never got into the 007 movies, though I played a video game when I was growing up. So, I have to go with Tom Cruise
Choose a comedian – Chris Rock or Kevin Hart Kevin Hart
Choose legendary status – Break Usain Bolt’s 100 Meters World Record or Olympic Gold Medal I would take an Olympic Gold Medal ten times over
Any Final Comments No, you covered all the bases. You came in with all the facts and it is refreshing to do an interview like this. You hit on all points and allowed me to explain in depth all my races and how they played out. The general fan doesn’t understand. They look at a time and say, ‘He ran fast’ or ‘He ran slow.’ They don’t know the lead-up or the stories and significance behind certain races. It was nice to give insight to the casual fan who just looks at a race time. Thank you so much – anytime. I’m sure we will speak again soon. With the Olympic Trials coming up, things are going to move fast. I’m looking forward to speaking with you again when I’m holding some more hardware at the end of the season