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LONDON – USA sprinter Ryan Bailey’s road to the 2012 London Olympics included a stop in Southern Illinois.
The 6-foot, 4-inch Bailey spent a year running for the Warriors at Rend Lake College. It was there he won national championship hardware in two events and gained the attention that spawned a coveted contract with Nike. It was quite a year. But no one – except Bailey – saw what was coming.
Last month, the 23-year-old secured his spot on the U.S. Olympic sprint team by finishing third behind Justin Gatlin and Tyson Gay in the 100 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials. From a swank
Monte Carlo hotel on Wednesday, Bailey told Yahoo!Sports blogger Jeff Eisenberg, “A lot of people didn’t know who I was until I made the team.” A week before, Bailey told the UK Daily Mail, “I keep hearing all the time, ‘I can’t believe you made the team.’ I knew I was going to make it. I had no doubt.”
At RLC, Bailey won the indoor 55m in 6.20 and the outdoor 100m in 10.07 at the 2009 National Junior College Athletic Association Men’s Division I Track & Field Championships. His times are still records at Rend Lake – 20.45 in the 200M, 6.20 in the 55M, 6.69 in the 60M and 10.05 in the 100M. He signed with Nike in 2009 and set a personal best of 9.88 in the 100M the following year. His 9.93 to qualify for the Olympics beat fourth-place Mike Rodgers by one-hundredth of a second.
His troubled past – stretches of homelessness with his ailing mother, school suspensions and being stabbed by a rival gang member – are now far behind Bailey. What lies ahead of the big sprinter from McKay High in Oregon is his biggest race ever. With the world watching, Bailey will take the Olympic stage for the 100M preliminaries on Saturday, Aug. 4, alongside Yohan Blake, Gatlin, Gay and world record holder Usain Bolt, among others.
Prelims are scheduled for 10 a.m., followed by the 100M first round at 12:30 p.m. The semifinals are at 7:45 p.m. Aug. 5 with the finals set for 9:50 p.m. NBC begins providing complete coverage of the 2012 Summer Olympics on Friday, July 27.