World championship 100-meter bronze medalist Trayvon Bromell has signed a multi-year endorsement contract with New Balance. The company announced the decision on Wednesday morning.
Bromell, a Baylor University junior, will forego the rest of his remaining NCAA eligibility to turn professional. He is represented by agent Ricky Simms of PACE Sports Management, which also represents short-sprints Olympic champion and world record holder Usain Bolt.
Bromell, 20, became the first U.S. high school athlete to break 10-seconds for the 100-meters before setting the world junior 100-meter record of 9.97 seconds.
With his 9.84-second performance at the U.S.A. Track and Field Championships in Eugene, netting him second place, Bromell became the first U.S. teenager to qualify for the IAAF World Championships in Beijing. In the 100-meter final, Bromell finished tied for third and bronze with Canada’s Andre De Grasse with his 9.92 result.
“I knew after Worlds and medaling, I knew that I could get a good contract, so my main thing was to figure things out with my family,” Bromell told SI.com. “We felt that right now was the best decision. We weren’t big on taking chances for next year. In a moment like this, it’s a 50-50 chance if you decide to go back to school. You could get injured and your value would drop. We felt like the opportunity was in our face. It’s a great contract. Great company in New Balance and great opportunity going into the Olympic year.”
The move is an interesting venture for a company like New Balance, which has primarily focused on sponsoring elite female distance runners in recent years. New Balance also supports world championship medalists Jenny Simpson and Brenda Martinez as well as Olympic steeplechaser Emma Coburn.
Of the four U.S. men’s sprinters that the United States sent to compete in Beijing, only Bromell was not sponsored by Nike.
“I think it’s a very exciting time for New Balance to get into sprints,” Simms told SI.com. “They’re getting a marquee athlete to communicate their message. Trayvon was being watched for a while and he became available and they really were keen to get him. They have really exciting plans and he’s already met with some of the shoe designers. They want to make a big splash. It will be a very exciting next couple years to see how Trayvon and the New Balance brand develops.”
Bolt is contemplating retirement in 2016 or 2017. World championship silver medalist Justin Gatlin continued to dominate even at the age of 33 by holding the world’s fastest 100-meter and 200-meter times before August. He is a likely candidate for the 2016 U.S. Olympic team but the future is unclear beyond that. De Grasse and Bromell are likely the faces of the short sprints, so it makes sense that companies were vying for the small commercial space on their racing kits.
“Everyone is looking to build up to the next Olympics in 2016, 2020 and then 2024,” Simms said. “A lot of the top sprinters at the moment are getting toward the end of their career. We’re looking at the next generation of guys and the shoe companies are certainly looking at these guys as well.”
De Grasse has returned to USC for his senior year and not turned professional yet.
As with many track and field sponsorship contracts, the terms and details of the deal were not disclosed, but Bromell was sought after by several major shoe companies before coming to an agreement with New Balance. Unlike any NBA or NFL rookies and their first professional contracts, Bromell says he won’t be quick to start spending his newest earnings.
“I’m a real low-down cat,” Bromell said. “I don’t really go off and spend a lot of money. Only thing on my mind is getting ready for this upcoming season.”
The plan ahead of the 2016 Olympic year will not be too different from Bromell’s previous two years at Baylor. He will continue to reside in Waco, Texas, and train under Baylor coach Mike Ford. He has two more years of school left but also plans on starting his own foundation to give back to his local community in Florida.
An indoor season schedule is still being drafted, but Bromell intends to compete during the winter as the IAAF World Indoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held in Portland, Ore., loom in March.
Bromell is also known for wearing short-shorts in the sprints as opposed to half-tights. He has assured that will not change.
“I’ll still be the same Trayvon that everyone knows but just with a shoe company on my top,” Bromell said. “[The short-shorts] give me a lot of knee-lift. I feel like being a shorter guy in the 100, you’ve got have a bigger stride to keep up with guys with longer legs.”