A 2014 yearbook from Our Lady of Mercy knew then what the rest of the world knows now: Christian Coleman is a bona fide star.
Voted most likely to get a Nike endorsement in high school because of his talent on the track, it's no surprise to many around the Fayetteville Catholic school that he's lived up to his senior superlative.
"It's inspiring to me," Coleman said in an interview with 11Alive. "It's motivation, and it helps me to stay focused and stay on track knowing that I have people watching me."
A humble attitude considering how tough the track and field world can be. There's the best, like eight-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, and then there's the rest.
After competing in his first Olympics in Rio de Janeiro last year, Coleman set NCAA records at the University of Tennessee in the 100 and 200 meters this spring. He turned pro, and he shifted into a second gear that would allow him to beat the world's fastest man not once, but twice.
"We crossed the line, and I wanted to win. I wasn't sure who won or not and then I looked over and lost to my teammate," Coleman said. "Couldn't have asked for a better outcome."
Coleman won the silver medal at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London earlier this month, his first global medal. That teammate he referred to was Justin Gatlin, who won gold. Gatlin is a five-time Olympic medalist. Coleman took home a boost of confidence.
Bolt took the bronze in the 100 meters, and then Coleman and Gatlin beat Bolt and Jamaica again in the 4x100 meter relay by winning the silver. Bolt couldn't finish his final race, falling to the ground with a hamstring injury.
"Now I'm focusing on this next season and progressing. It's my rookie professional season making sure I come out and live up to my name."
Now, he's one of the elite. It's a small club, which is why during this break between running and the start of classes for his senior year at Tennessee he fully intends to finish his degree. But he managed to squeeze in some time to share his experience in the place where it all began.
"Seeing me compete at this next level knowing I came from the same places, ate at the same table, they realize they can accomplish come of the same things," Coleman said as the kids of Our Lady of Mercy school visited with him and took pictures with the Olympian.
"He's been to the Olympics," student Isiah Fernandez said. "He beat Usain Bolt. It's all these different things he keeps doing that are amazing coming from our school. That's like our idol. Our top dog."
A bona fide title Coleman now carries beyond the walls of his alma mater.
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