Shooting survivor chosen as U.S. flagbearer for closing ceremony

Nellum was shot four years ago and told he wouldn't run at an elite level again. Yeah, wrong. (US Presswire)

What started with Mariel Zagunis will end with Bryshon Nellum.

No, I'm not talking about the massive game of dodgeball I wish concluded every Olympiad. Instead, it's the closing ceremony. The U.S. has picked the 23-year-old track athlete to carry its flag when the XXX Olympiad ties a bow on things Sunday night.

Nellum got through to the 400-meter semifinals earlier this week and ran the opening leg of Friday's 4x400 relay that saw the American team finish second.

The U.S. was not short on worthy athletes with incredible back-stories who could've earned the honor of flagbearer, but so few could legitimately say they came close to not living to see this day. Nellum survived from gang-related gunshot wounds four years ago and turned himself into an Olympian.

This coming after doctors told him any sort of serious running was most likely not going to be a part of his future. Good for Nellum. He's earned this, no question.

Plus, according to the press release, Nellum was picked by his own colleagues.

"I'm humbled by this incredible privilege," Nellum in that release. "Four years ago I wasn't sure I'd ever run again, and now I'm leading Team USA into the Closing Ceremony of the Olympic Games. I'm so grateful for the incredible support of my friends and family and I'll never forget these Games."

It also serves as a positive reinforcement to Nellum and his teammates on the 4x400 who, relatively speaking, had a disappointing showing. The quarter lost the gold for the U.S. for the first time in 40 years in that event.

CBS Sports Writer

Matt Norlander is a national award-winning writer who has been with CBS Sports since 2010. He's in his seventh season covering college basketball for CBS, and also covers the NBA Draft, the Olympics and... Full Bio

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