West Michigan native Brazier a favorite for Tokyo Olympics medal

Sports

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Donavan Brazier, the reigning world champion in the 800 meters, has his sights set on the biggest prize in track and field: Olympic gold.

Speed has never been a problem for Brazier, who was a state champion while competing for Kenowa Hills High School in metro Grand Rapids and then a national champion at Texas A&M.

“I think I’ve been kind of fortunate enough that whatever stage I have gotten to I have been able to succeed,” Brazier said. “…In my first year as a professional, I won a U.S. title. So it’s kind of come easy.”

So when he says he thinks a gold medal in Tokyo this summer is “very realistic for me,” he’s not boasting.

“It’s like what Bruce Lee said — if I say I’m fast, you might say I’m boasting. But if I say I’m not fast or I’m not good, then you’ll say I’m lying,” Brazier said. “But I have a confidence in myself that I try not to be arrogant with it, because track will humble you real quick.”

Like every other Olympian, he has had to negotiate the mental and physical challenges of the pandemic. He was peaking at just the right time when the games were postponed last year. Nike shut down its training facility in Oregon and he had to change his regimen, which wreaked havoc on his motivation.

“You’re not always motivated, so if you’re not motivated, you have to be disciplined,” he said.

His other challenge: Stay healthy. An Achilles tendon injury took him off the track in 2018.

If he stays healthy this year and goes the distance, he could be the first U.S. athlete to win a gold medal in the 800 since 1972.

“I’ve always had the luxury of having people that believe in me,” he said. “I’m not the type of person who is trying to run for the people that say I can’t do it. I’m trying to run for the people that say I can.”

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