Kerron Stephon Clement was born in Trinidad on October 31, 1985, the youngest of three children including his two older sisters, Krystle Darcelle Clement and Kizzy Ann Francis. All were raised by their single mother, Claudette Clement. When Kerron was only three days old, a doctor diagnosed him with Pyloric Stenosis for which he had to undergo Pyloromyotomy surgery. This surgical procedure was medically necessary because without it, his body would have been unable to retain nourishment, and he would have had only a 50% chance of survival.

At the age of five years, Kerron began participating in athletics in the Deliverance Temple church where he first discovered his passion and talent for running. Winning races quickly became a top priority for Kerron. In one early competition, he faced a field of much older kids who were far more experienced runners, yet he still took second place. Though this was a significant accomplishment for a 5 year old, Kerron was not satisfied. He felt crushing disappointment and was depressed for weeks, thinking “I cannot finish 2nd, I have to be in first place all the time.” This mentality is one that still lingers with Kerron today.

By age 10, Kerron was regularly competing in Track and Field and loving the competitions. However, he then developed an injury called Synovitis, which is an inflammation of a synovial (joint-lining) membrane. The injury caused him a great deal of pain, particularly when he was in motion, due to the characteristic swelling caused by this ailment. A doctor informed his mother that Kerron needed to stop running in order for the injury to heal properly. This ailment forced Kerron to give up athletics for 2 years.

On December 22, 1998, when Kerron was age 13, his family immigrated to the United States hoping for a chance at a better life. They took up residence in the small town of La Porte Texas. Coming straight from Trinidad, the school board placed Kerron in the 8th grade in La Porte Junior High (LPJH), even though placing him in the 7th grade would have been more age appropriate. But Kerron was determined to excel in the classroom nevertheless. He also was eager to get into Physical Education (PE) classes, and resume athletics after his two-year absence.

One day during a PE class, he and some friends were on the playing field and saw a hurdle in the middle of the field. The other kids dared Kerron to jump over the hurdle and he did so without hesitation. Unbeknownst to Kerron, the coach had been watching, and had noted with amazement how this new young student had jumped the hurdle with perfect form. The following day, the coach began taking Kerron on daily trips up to the high school for him to learn more about the hurdles from the older kids. Kerron soon competed at his first track meet, where he ran the 300 meter hurdle. During the race, Kerron fell over the hurdles and was unable to finish the race. Though this was a disappointing loss, it strengthened his determination to get better at the sport of running. However, more obstacles lay ahead of him.

Upon entering La Porte High School, Kerron had signed up for Cross Country running, which he naively thought meant he would be attending track events “across the country”, in other words, around the United States. He soon discovered Cross Country simply meant long-distance running, and quickly realized that this was not for him. Running long distances on the grass and concrete took a terrible toll on Kerron’s body, especially his knees. His prior affliction with synovitis began to flair up again. With his pain becoming unbearable, he felt that he had no choice but to announce to his coach that he was quitting the track team and was considering giving up sports entirely. Kerron had given up on himself.

However, later that evening, the coach came to Kerron and his mother and pleaded for Kerron not to quit sports. The coach said that he felt that Kerron had the potential to be a great athlete. However, Kerron was still resistant. But that night his mother changed his mind about giving up. She told him, “Where is that kid that always likes to win? If you give up, you’ll never win again… and you won’t be the best.” Thanks to his mother, the world would soon begin recognizing Kerron’s talents.

After recovering from his knee injury, Kerron’s fortunes began to change and he quickly became a very successful high school athlete. As a fifteen year-old sophomore, he was district champion in the 110- meter hurdles and regional and state runner-up in the 300-meter hurdles. Kerron set the new national record for his age and class, 36.32 seconds, ranking him sixth in the United States. His junior year brought him more titles, including district champion, regional champion, and state champion in both the 110-meter hurdles and the 300-meter hurdles. In the latter event, he also set the new national age and class record with a time of 35.78 and raised his rank to third in the United States. He closed out his senior year by easily defending his 300-meter hurdles title, but fell short in the 110-meter hurdles finishing a mere second- to 13.51 to 13.52.

Soon, Kerron began achieving notable national titles including the Nike Indoor 60 meter hurdles, USATF Youth Athletic Champion (in both 110 and 400 metres hurdles), and Adidas Outdoor Champion in the 110-meter hurdles with a time of 13.63. Clement recorded the second fastest 400 meter hurdle time ever by a US high school athlete in winning the USATF Junior Olympics with the time of 49.77 in Miami. Clement was also runner-up in the Golden West Invitational in the 110-meter hurdles. He was also chosen 2002 Verizon Most Outstanding Male Athlete of the meet. Then he was named USA Track and Field’s “Athlete of the Week,” and was listed in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” in August of 2002.

Having achieved dominance in high school track, Kerron found himself the most sought after high school track athlete in the United States by college and university recruiters. After signing with the University of Florida in the fall of 2003, he quickly became a success at the collegiate level. In his freshman year, he won the South Eastern Conference (SEC) title followed by his first NCAA National title in the 400-meter hurdles. He followed this up by successfully defending his title the following year to become the first athlete to win 400m hurdle titles in back-to-back seasons in nearly 20 years.

On March 12, 2005 representing the Florida Gators, Clement broke the indoor world record for the 400m sprint at the NCAA indoor championships in Fayettville, Arkansas with a time of 44.57 seconds. His split at 200m was 21.08 seconds. The record was held for more than ten years and was previously by the great Michael Johnson at 44.63 seconds. Afterwards Clement anchored Florida’s 4×400 indoor meter relay to a collegiate record of 3:03.51, in which it still stands today.

At age 19, following these successful seasons at Florida, he decided to give up his remaining two years of college eligibility to run on the professional circuit. Less than two weeks after turning pro, he won yet another prestigious title: 2005 USA National Champion -400mH and was named 2005 Visa Champion. Later in 2005, he placed 4th at the World Championship in Helsinki, Finland. Known for defending his titles, Kerron did just that at the 2006 USA National Championships, winning the 400mH.

After finishing in fourth place in the 400m hurdles at the 2005 World Outdoor Championships in Helsinki, Finland, Clement made the most of his second opportunity at a World Outdoors. In 2007, he won the gold medal in the fastest time in the world in 2007 of 47.61 seconds. Clement enjoyed another fantastic season in 2008 highlighted by his silver medal winning performance at the Olympic Games in Beijing and his second consecutive Track & Field News #1 world ranking.

Clement entered the 2009 season with great determination but having already qualified for the Team USA roster for the 2009 World Outdoor Championships as the reigning 400m hurdles world champion, Clement focused on the 400 meters at the USA Outdoor Championships, where he finished third in 45.14 seconds. Clement, who entered the 2009 World Championships final as the #1 ranked men’s 400m hurdler in the world, was in command throughout and successfully defended his 2007 world title in the fastest time in the world that year of 47.91 seconds. Clement joined National Track & Field Hall of Famer Edwin Moses (1983, 1987) and Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic (2001, 2003) as the only men ever to win the world 400m hurdles title twice, with all three accomplishing the feat in consecutive years. “It is such an honor to be apart of that prestigious group, those guys did so much for the sport (hurdling) and now my name is in the history books again.”

In the year 2010 with no major championship on the line, many athletes choose to focus on another different event other than their own, but Kerron decided to focus on the hurdles; why? Let’s ask him, “I want to master my craft, and be consistent in placing first and once I become comfortable with the hurdles and learning the different zones I will be unstoppable. There is always room for improvement, and growing. If something’s not growing, its dead…so I want to continue learning the sport and my craft”.

The start of 2010 season it was a very trying and difficult moment for the 24-year-old phenom. The 2-time World Champion was without a shoe contract, and during the Boston Indoor meet went on air via Flo-track and explained his position of not having a shoe contract “they wanted to cut me half of what I used to make when I first signed in (05)”. During the Boston Indoor Kerron ran the 60m not advancing to the finals and was seen sporting Under Armor sportswear. But ultimately Kerron did re-signed with Nike in the summer of 2010. During the middle of the outdoor season, Kerron got ill and was forced to shut down his season. The morning of a competition in Lausanne, he woke up with a swollen face, and not thinking anything major of it, he raced during the competition and felt very sluggish and heavy, placing dead last in the race. People who knew the young superstar knew something was wrong. Kerron then traveled to Paris to train with his training group which consist of Allyson Felix, Dawn Harper, Virginia Powell and Shawn Crawford, and during the time he was in training camp, he discovered something more serious, his stomach and legs were both swollen and was unable to train. “I felt like I had fluid in my legs, it felt so heavy, and I couldn’t even run normal anymore, I got very scared and was on call with my family explaining the situation”. Kerron immediately booked the next flight out to Los Angeles, California and check into Cedar-Sinai Medical Center and spent 1 day in the hospital. The state of his mysterious illness is unknown to the public and he chooses not give details about the matter, but he is fully recovered.

When he thought nothing else could go wrong. Kerron got injured and pulled his right groin during the semi-final race of the 400-meter hurdles at the World Championships in Daegu, Korea 2011. He felt crushed because the World Championships is one that he loves to compete in and he was defending champion. After the competition Kerron flew back home to Los Angeles and had time to clear his mind and he decided it was time to make some changes in his career. His decision was to leave his coach of 4 years and move back to his college coach, Michael Holloway.

Kerron moved back to Florida the fall of 2011, knowing the following year was an Olympic year he was eager to start back training with his old college coach. Everything seemed very promising for the young man during his February training, but it happened again, he re-injured himself during a hurdling session in practice. The following day he undergoes a MRI scan and the findings were greater than a pulled groin. The doctors discovered he had a “true hernia”, and they needed to do an abductor release to relive the pain he was feeling near his groin. Nevertheless, a few days later he had two medical procedures; adductor release and a hernia repair. The surgery took a full 9 weeks to fully heal. Kerron had to cancel most of his schedule competitions because he wasn’t able to compete at a high level. A few months before the Olympic trials, Kerron was having second thoughts about running his specialty event. Because a few weeks prior he was unable to hurdle without feeling pain. Eventually his coach spoke with him, and convinces him that he is a fighter and God didn’t bring him this far to leave him. “I spoke with my coach during one of my hurdling sessions, because he saw I was very timid to go over the hurdle, and he just told me to go for it and don’t be afraid. And after he told me that, and it didn’t hurt I knew it was time to really attack my practices because I only had 3 weeks before the trials.” Kerron schedule a local track meet in Clermont, Florida to compete in the hurdles only 8 days before the Trials when everyone else had an entire season to compete and ready to make the world’s hardest team.

Kerron traveled to Eugene Oregon for the Olympic Trials with one thing on his mind, which is to make the London team. During the finals of the hurdles, Kerron found himself in 4th place off the last hurdle, knowing the US selection is top 3 places to make the Olympic team. “When I saw I was in 4th place, I told myself, I came too far not to make the team but I knew I had to dig down deep and fight for my spot, and I did that. Kerron’s effort placed him 3rd at trials earning him a spot on the team to London. My support team is the ones that gave me encouraging words and knew that I could do it; everyone else had counted me out.

The 2012 Olympic quickly became one of Kerron’s memorable moment, no he didn’t make the podium but simply because of what he was able to overcome. Clement’s 8th-place finish can’t diminish joy of competing. Kerron was unable to compose himself during the media after the Olympic finals of the 400mH. But as difficult as Monday’s outcome was for the 26-year-old, who won the silver medal in this event in Beijing four years ago, his emotions didn’t reflect frustration at where he finished nor anger that the result had more to do with injury than ability. Clement, a high school state champion hurdler at La Porte, was brought to tears because he felt blessed, not cursed. Proud, not humiliated.

“I’m just happy to be where I am now in spite of what I’ve been through, I kept fighting to make it. I’ve had a very tough season. I just really thank God that I made the Olympic final. I didn’t think I would be in this position honestly. I’m happy, who is able to have two surgeries in the same year and able to still compete at the highest level, it’s GOD’s work. To be honest if my story can help one person I’ve done my job, this would definitely be a memorable games for me because of my journey of getting there.”

As classy in defeat as he is in victory, the soft-spoken Clement has long been known as a gentleman on and off the track. His body failed him on this night not his will or his passion to compete. Surgical procedures in February, one to repair a hernia and another an abductor release, proved too much from which to recover. He took nine weeks off at the time and slowly returned to the track but had run so few races before the Olympics that his timing was off and his strength not where it was. “I still feel the pressure in there, the injury, but I was able to keep pressing and give it a go,” he said. “Many people could not have advanced in the Olympic trials and made it to the Olympics with this, and many didn’t think I could. I didn’t know if I could. “Many in this situation definitely wouldn’t have been able to make it to the finals at the Olympics. I’m blessed and happy to have done so.”

Clement was scheduled to run in a meet in Stockholm a few weeks later, but he will take time to fully heal and prepare for next summer’s world championships.