From underdog to number one: the journey of a track champion

Meet Jacob Brawley: an inspiring athlete whose perseverance and grit led him to success in his athletic career.


Photo courtesy of Jacob Brawley

First step up | Junior Jacob Brawley crosses the finish line in his first 400 meter race at the Covina 5-way event. “I felt slightly nervous during the 400 meter race but I had more confidence in this compared to the 100 and 200 meter race.”

On a cold spring evening, running down the lanes of the Ken Gunn Stadium, is 16-year- old junior Jacob Brawley, an athlete who participates in Walnut High School’s varsity track and football teams.

This year, Brawley placed first in Walnut for the 200 and 400 meter sprints and second for the 100 meter sprint. He is also in the top five for the 100, 200 and 400 meter sprint in the
Hacienda League.

“I felt a sense of accomplishment when I found out I was first in Walnut and in the [top five] for the Hacienda League this year,” Brawley said. “What really inspired me to be where I am now was the pros on TV and my friends, but I also had the natural drive to be number one. So even though the competition was nerve wracking at times, I found it
more exciting than anything else.”

Brawley wasn’t always an accomplished athlete, but he was determined to succeed. He started training by participating in basketball, football and track.

“It was tough to start playing sports out of nowhere, and play at an intense level,” Brawley said. “I wished I started earlier, so to make it up I played harder and worked harder than the next guy.”

Despite his original setbacks, Brawley started winning and outrunning his opponents on the field, eventually becoming one of the fastest runners for the 100, 200 and 400 meter sprint.

“When I first won with my own efforts, it lit a spark for me to follow. After that, it all started going uphill. Of course there were obstacles then and now, but I will always get over them,” Brawley said. “For me, training was [a big part of my] success. It was [also] something I liked, but more importantly, it was something I had to do.”

With the mindset of a hard worker and competitive nature of an athlete, Brawley trained non-stop, from doing plyometrics (using speed and force of different movements to
build muscle power) to hitting the gym three days a week. He also trains on the track after school for one to two hours with his team every day.

“I wanted to prove I can be the best. [After] I started winning instead of losing, that’s when I got hungry: hungry for winning,” Brawley said. “I worked harder than I ever have before. When I won, it felt refreshing. When I lost, I started running.”

Now, no longer watching from the sidelines, Brawley has earned the confidence of both his teammates and coaches. This allows him to strive for new heights and push himself further than ever before.

“If I could say anything about my experiences, it would be to realize that your journey won’t be the same as another person’s journey,” Brawley said. “It may take longer to accomplish things compared to others, but you just have to trust the process and eventually you’ll reach your goal.” Ω