Earlier this month, Murrieta resident and local Track and Field icon, Michael Norman, not only donated his time to speak to local youth athletes from his old club, the Temecula Valley Time Machine but also donated new Nike shoes to them as well.
Norman holds the world best time in the indoor 400 meters at 44.52 seconds, and in 2016, he became the world junior champion in both the 200 meters and 4×100-meter relay. He first gained international attention as a high school senior after he defeated reigning USA champion Justin Gatlin in a semifinal heat of the 200 meters at the 2016 Olympic Trials. Michael would ultimately place fifth in the final and did not qualify for the Olympic team.
However, he secured two gold medals at the World Junior Championships later that summer, highlighted by a championship record of 20.17 in the 200 meters. Norman is also a four-time NCAA champion and set or helped set collegiate records in every NCAA final he ran in 2018. Those included his world best time in the indoor 400 meters and an unofficial world record in the indoor 4×400-meter relay when he anchored the University of Southern California Trojans to a winning time of 3:00.77. Throughout his career, Norman has won numerous awards including the Gatorade Player of the Year awards for track and field in both 2015 and 2016, and The Bowerman in 2018. Norman graduated from the University of Southern California in May 2019 and currently competes professionally for Nike under his college coaches Quincy Watts and Caryl Smith Gilbert.
The Temecula Valley Time Machine is a nonprofit USATF/AAU Youth Track and Field/cross-country Club. Members consist of athletes ages 7 to 14 from the southwest Riverside County area. The club competes in the USATF Southern California Association, which includes clubs from Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. The Southern California Association is in USATF Region 15 which also includes Hawaii, Nevada and San Diego Associations.
Norman ran with the Time Machine as a youth, alongside other notable area talents like Jordan Testerman, Damien Marshall, Jalen Glover and other longstanding track and field athletes that took their talents to the next level. Norman said he gained valuable insight from the coaching staff, which includes longtime head coach Bobby Williams.
“They got me to where I am today,” Norman said, who also mentioned his high school coaches, college coaches and USA Track and Field coaches as well. “Coach Bobby really pushed me and helped me understand the sport at an early age. I really wanted to give back to this program, especially for everything they gave me growing up.”
At any given time, there are usually 60 to 80 runners in the Time Machine program, and this event was administered to those in the program that had been with Coach Bobby and his staff for upward of three or more years.
“We have some of the best kids in the area, and I don’t just mean athletically,” Williams said. “Our student athletes know that ‘student’ comes first. They are very committed to the classroom because they know about the extra money that is out there for them and that helps with their drive.”
Williams thrives on the fact that his athletes don’t get hurt and praises local facilities like that of Dynamic Fitness in Temecula, which is owned and operated by Kevin Duenas and Brian Richardson.
“Having strength and conditioning coaches that understand the body types and skills needed per athlete and sport is crucial to their success and ours. Partners like Kevin and Brian allow us to concentrate on our part, and them on theirs,” he said.
During his afternoon with the Time Machine, Norman spoke to the student athletes about character and commitment, visited with the families in attendance, donated shoes that his Nike sponsor was enthused to give out, and he signed autographs as well. Currently he is working with Vista Murrieta High School on some big things for the school and is training for the Olympic Trials, which hopefully won’t get shut down amid the COVID-19 concerns.
“I am really happy with where I am right now. I am confident in my training, working toward my goals and love being able to give back,” he said.
The phrase “Norman process” has been fueling his workouts and has been very inspiring to many of the youth in the area.
“He is such a great role model,” Jaylen Spencer, a Bella Vista Middle School student who is looking forward to following in his footsteps at Vista Murrieta, said. “I know track and field can take me places, and I want to make myself better every day.”
“It was exciting to meet him,” Murrieta Mesa sophomore Caleb Fuller, who also runs on the Ram’s track and field team, said. “I definitely am encouraged by his work ethic, and I strive to be able to dedicate myself to the same type of training.”
Temecula Valley Time Machine’s Susan Nelson, who is the Vice President of the club this year, directed the days event, which included their athletes: Avery Lynas, Esther Nelson, James Johnson III, Torika Geka, Ace Geka, Jack Paradise, Julian Dixon, Isabel Rosales, Carmelo Christian, Camara Christian, Adaora Duru, Kosi Duru, Alanna Clark, Alyssa Alumbres, Jaylen Spencer, Camryn Johnson, Lauryn Johnson, Kyle Bowen, Bryce Terhune, Alexandria Oyawale, Caleb Fuller, Kaila Robinson, Ericka Kirk and Corrinne Coates.
JP Raineri can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org