In May, all eyes were on the USA Track & Field Golden Games with NFL star DK Metcalf entered in the men’s 100-meter race.
But instead of marveling at the speed of the Seattle Seahawks wide receiver, it was Pasadena native Cravon Gillespie who captured onlookers with his breakout moment.
Gillespie won in a season-best time of 9.96 seconds that gave him a boost heading into the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials that led to a trip to Tokyo and the Summer Olympics.
“It’s definitely a dream come true,” Gillespie said.
Gillespie will run in the 4 x 100 relay on Aug. 4. In Tokyo.
Gillespie set records at the University of Oregon in the 100 meters (9.93) and 200 meters (19.93) in a breakout performance in 2019 after graduating from Monrovia High School and Mt. Sac.
Although he now lives in the San Fernando Valley, he still visits the area frequently.
“I’m in Pasadena all the time at my grandma’s beauty salon,” he said. “I get my hair done from my sister there pretty often.”
Gillespie went to the Olympic trials in 2016 when he was a sophomore at Mt Sac.
That year, Gillespie was the only junior college athlete in the Olympic trials, but he didn’t make it out of the first round of the competition.
“I had a chip on my shoulder from there, and I was kind of embarrassed,” he said. “I knew that I could definitely compete and make the team. And so to go out there, put it all together just shows definitely hard work does pay off.”
But he was not finished, in 2018, Gillespie won the PAC-12 100 meters title and finished second in the 200 meters. He qualified for the 100m final at the Outdoor NCAA Championships, where he finished fourth in 10.27 seconds.
Gillespie turned professional and signed with Nike. He focused on the 100 meters for the rest of the season, finishing 4th at the US Championships and qualifying for the US World Championship 4 × 100 meters relay team. That same year, he was also selected to represent the US at the 2019 Pan American Games, where he finished sixth in the 100 meters and won bronze in the 4 × 100 meters relay.
“Being from Pasadena, it’s definitely would be a dream come true to represent my country.”