Bradley Franklin wins national track championship

Published 10:32 pm Monday, April 1, 2024

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Bradley Franklin kicked off his track and field career in seventh grade as a student at Demopolis Middle School. Now a senior at Thompson High School in Alabaster, the student-athlete competed for his second year at the Boston New Balance Indoor Nationals March 7-10, breaking a personal record and winning the boys’ 60-meter hurdle championship with a time of 7.61 seconds.

“He ran the fastest time in the nation this year, which bettered his fastest time,” said his father, Byron Franklin. “He had the fastest time before, but he bettered that time in the finals.”

According to Byron, Bradley came in sixth in the competition in 2023. As a junior, last year’s competition was his first experience in the New Balance meet.

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“He came back this year and to go from sixth place to winning it was really a great feat on his part,” Byron said. “It showed his growth and development from one year to the next. He has just done a great job of working and preparing himself all year long.”

In middle school, Bradley began competing in the long jump, often facing varsity teams because many schools did not field a junior high school team. He started hurdling in the eighth grade, Byron recalled, and has competed in the Junior Olympics and the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) program.

“He is the 7A state champion in the 60-meter indoor hurdles,” Byron said. “Last year, he was the first-place outdoors winner in the 110- and 300-meter outdoor hurdles.”

Bradley is competitive by nature, Byron explained, and has worked hard to gain skill through the years.

“Somewhere in the midst of eighth grade he realized he was pretty good,” Byron said. “That began his drive, and he just wanted to do well and represent the family and the Lord in what he does.”

Byron and his wife Meriam are pastors at Living Word Church in Livingston. The parents, who have served the church for 20 years, said they have watched their son grow up in the church.

“He is our lyrics projector for praise and worship,” said Byron. “He has an understanding of doing things not just for ourselves, but to glorify God.”

According to Meriam, coaches have been instrumental in helping her son achieve his athletic goals.

“Coaches have done an excellent job, seeing his ability and encouraging and helping him to be his best,” she said. “His siblings also, his older sister and brother have been an encouragement to him too.”

The road has not been entirely smooth, Meriam noted.

“Bradley has had challenges,” she said. “Academically, he’s brilliant, but he has dealt with challenges like ADHD and having confidence in himself. So, participating in athletics and recognizing his gifts has given him a boost.

“And then, he has a firm foundation of who he is in Christ which has helped him build his confidence. Even his classroom performance has improved, just knowing that God has a purpose and a plan for him that goes beyond athletics and academics.”

Byron credits the work of volunteer coaches, like Demopolis resident Rodney Rowser, and their time in Marengo County with helping shape Bradley as a student-athlete.

“West Alabama has a special place in our hearts,” he said. ‘That’s where [our children] went to school, and we’re so grateful for having our experiences, with coaches like Rodney Rowser. He volunteers his time and has done a great job working with a lot of students.”