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Fred Kerley, a talent raised with 13 children in a single room

17/07/2022

Updated at 8:19 p.m.

Oregon found its speed king in the figure of Fred Kerley (Taylor, Texas, 27 years old), brand new champion of the 100 meters in the American triplet rounded off by Marvin Bracy and Trayvon Bromell. The fourth of the locals, the current champion Chris Coleman, who would have swept the time he achieved three years ago in Doha, 9.76, was left off the podium. Kerley, who has the same time as his personal best, won with a record one tenth higher (8.86).

Eugene’s will not go down in history as the fastest final in history, nor as the most exciting, but it serves to recognize an atypical athlete, who in the space of two years has managed to convert himself from a more than acceptable fourteenth century ( bronze in Doha 2019) to be the best sprinter.

Kerley has behind a beautiful story of overcoming. Her childhood was not easy. His father went to jail when he was two years old and his mother, he says, “made the wrong decisions in life” that forced him and his four siblings to move to the house of his aunt Virginia, whom he calls affectionate form ‘Meme’. She was the one who took care of the five, as well as the children of another of her brothers and her own. “I think about her every day, because if it wasn’t for Meme I probably wouldn’t be talking to you guys right now,” Kerley said after winning gold. “She sacrificed her life for me, for my brothers and my cousins. We were all adopted. We were 13 in one bedroom. At the end of the day it was like in any other house, we all had fun, we enjoyed it, and if we are doing great things now it is thanks to her». Kerley has her aunt’s nickname tattooed on her arm. She is not the only one she has. She has nine more, almost all related to religion. “She took us to church every Wednesday and Sunday. My first tattoo was when I was twelve years old, it was a verse from the Bible». She also carries one of the Virgin Mary and one of a rosary.

9.86
seconds

It is the mark with which Fred Kerley won the 100 in Eugene, one tenth slower than his personal best

Kerley attended South Planes High School, where she found her rebellious streak. He had problems with the law and was close to ending up behind bars on more than one occasion. He saved the sport. His imposing figure (1.93) of him made him first look at American football, a sport that he abandoned after breaking his collarbone. It was then that he turned to athletics. His marks in the 400 meters earned him a place in the team of the Texas A&M University, where he did not stop growing until reaching the American national team. He was the 400m university champion in 2017, and gave the final blow by winning the trials prior to the Doha World Cup, where he won bronze, his first international medal.

Kerley admits that he hadn’t planned on changing tests. She forced her ankle. «When I started training for Tokyo it swelled up and wouldn’t let me take the curves. That’s when I decided to change.” They told her she was crazy. But apparently they were wrong. “When someone says I can’t do something, I go and do it ten times more than they said I couldn’t,” she says with one of her rare smiles. Here she has already improved the silver of the Games and this morning she will start the series in the 200 meters, where she a priori starts behind Noah Lyles and Erriyon Knighton, the other two Americans.


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