Track and Field
“This was my dream when I was a kid. This is where I want to be.”
Sprinter. Runner. Long Jumper. American Record Holder. Motivational Speaker. Paralympian.
Southern California receives more sunshine than nearly any other place in the U.S., and with easy access to the ocean, deserts and mountains, the lifestyle is an active one. This was true for the teenage SoCal native, Trenten Merrill who enjoyed the surf, sand and a variety of outdoor sports. It would be a typical afternoon bike ride that would change the trajectory of this 14-year old’s life.
While riding in tandem on a dirt bike with a friend, Trenten was severely injured in a car collision. His right foot was pinned between the dirt bike and car. He would endure five surgical procedures before physicians recommended amputation below the knee. With the amputation came a new and different life with a prosthetic leg.
“I dreamed about being a professional athlete. In the hospital, I thought it was taken away from me. God had plans for me, and I see now, he sure did. It would have been news to me back then.”
Trenten relied heavily on his faith and with the support and encouragement from his parents, wasted little time in getting up and active. He would return to school and, with the help of his prosthetic, would learn to jog and play sports.
“I had the determination inside to do everything I could do before. I developed this work ethic that I had to work twice as hard in everything I do.”
At age 18, his prosthetist encouraged Trenten to attend a running clinic, but each time he would decline. His father intervened, telling him “Don’t focus on the what-ifs. Focus on what is possible.” Finally, Trent relented and attended a clinic lead by several para-athletes. That experience ignited his desire to become a Paralympian. Two years later, wearing his Cheetah Xtreme, Trenten transferred to Azusa Pacific University and became a member of the track & field team as its first para-athlete.
Today, Trent is a Paralympian, world championship silver medalist and now an American long jump record-holder. Still enjoying the California sunshine, he remains an avid beach goer, surfer and off-roader and has his sights squarely set on Tokyo and the 2020 Paralympic Games.
“Every day, it’s the process of getting better at long jump and sprinting. I’m definitely shooting for the top. I want to be the first American to get that gold medal in the long jump.”
- 2015, IPC Athletics World Championships, Silver 4x100 relay
- 2016, Paralympic Games, 4th long jump
- 2019, World Championship, 5th long jump
Below the knee