by Michael Bascombe
Bralon Terrol TAPLIN, Grenada (400m)
Born: 8 May 1992, Florida, USA
Lives: College Station, TX
1.80m / 75kg
Coach: Alleyne Francique
MARCH 15, 2016 – Bralon Taplin is a self-confessed late starter to track after only taking up the sport at the age of 16 at Stony Point High School in Texas. But that didn’t deter his likeness for competition and desire to be the best.
There were early indications that Taplin is obsessed with competition and he is out to prove that desire.
“I started running track when I was 16. Track is the first sport that I took serious. I didn’t like other sports.
I stayed with track because I like to push myself and track is a sport where it’s just me versus the competition and I am obsessed with proving that I am the best,” he said.
After three attempts at championships and battling injuries the 23 year-old is aiming to become the latest Grenadian world champion, following the exploits of Alleyne Francique and Kirani James. Coincidentally, Francique, who coaches Taplin, is a two-time world indoor 400m champion. In 2011, James made history by winning Grenada’s first ever medal at the IAAF World Championships when he took the gold over the one-lap event. He also won the gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games.
That year (2011) Taplin was at his first season at South Plains College in Texas where he finished third in the NJCAA 400m with 47.63 seconds on the oversized track at Lubbock. He was also runner-up at the NJCAA with a personal best time of 46.79 in Kansas.
Taplin, who missed most of 2013 and the 2014 indoor seasons due to injury, returned to competition and improved his personal best to 45.18 at the NCAA Championships.
He also represented Grenada at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland where he was 45.90 in the preliminaries and 46.68 in the semi-finals. A week later he finished second at the NACAC Under-23 Championships in Kamloops, Canada with 45.52.
Last spring, he set a career best of 44.89 as runner-up to defending Olympic champion and compatriot Kirani James, who set a world-leading time of 44.31, at the Sun Angel Classic in Tempe, Arizona.
Taplin is also fourth on the all-time list among athletes representing Grenada following James (43.74), Francique (44.47) and Rondell Bartholomew (44.65).
Taplin said that he is never satisfied even when he is convinced that he has offered his best. There is always the will to win.
“I have always been out classed by other competitors. However, I always found a way to win and I get better every year.”
Although he was born in the United States, Taplin chose to represent Grenada, the birthplace of his grandmother.
“I wasn’t influenced to run for Grenada. I have never had a desire to run for the United States. I have always wanted to represent Grenada,” he said.
Taplin made an early season impact by recording a world-leading mark at the Texas A&M Invitational on January 16, 2016.
He posted 45.20 to win the Men’s Olympic Development 400m ahead of Ramon Miller of the Bahamas (47.76) and Greg Coleman (48.06). Taplin’s indoor performance also gives him a qualifying mark for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in August.
“I’m healthy and injury-free and worked hard to be at this stage,” said Taplin who pulled up injured at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing.
“I opened a week earlier this year than last year and once I remain injury-free then I should get back to the competitive stage.”
Taplin, who is among favourites for the 400m at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Portland, Oregon this March, is weary of the disappointments at previous high-level championships especially at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada in 2015.
“I have let my country down three different times, going to championships battling injures but I am finally healthy and I am ready to make Grenada proud,” he said.
“So coming into this meet (World Indoor) I am focused and ready to take the gold.”
Taplin is dreaming of bigger things this season with targets of medals in the individual one-lap event and the 4x400m relay at the Olympic Games in Rio.
100m – 10.53 (2012)
200m (in) – 20.80 (2015)
200m – 20.88 (2012)
400m (in) – 45.20 (2016)
400m – 44.89 (2015)
2009 3rd Texas 5A State Final 47.28
2010 1st Texas 5A State Final 47.03
2011 2nd NJCAA Championships (Kansas) 46.79
2012 1st NJCAA Championships (Levelland, TX) 46.00
2012 3rd Michael Johnson Invitational (Waco, TX) 45.89
2013 1st Texas A&M Invitational Indoor (College Station, TX) 46.85
2014 NCAA quarter-final (Fayetteville, AR) 45.18
2014 2nd Heat 6 Commonwealth Games (Glasgow, Scotland) 45.90
2014 5th Semi-final 1 Commonwealth Games (Glasgow, Scotland) 46.68
2014 2nd NACAC Under-13 Championships (Kamloops, Canada) 45.52
2015 2nd Sun Angel Classic (Tempe, AZ) 44.89 PB
2015 8th Heat 1 IAAF World Championships (Beijing, China) 46.27
2016 1st Texas A&M Invitational (College Station, TX) 45.20 WL
2016 1st Millrose Games (New York, NY) 45.35