American Bryan Clay has dominated the decathlon event in recent years,
and has to be considered among the top contenders for a gold medal at
the Beijing Olympics in August. As VOA's Jim Stevenson reports, Clay
not only has a mission to win, he also is working hard to show that
performance-enhancing drugs are not needed to succeed.
Bryan Clay says his main objective as an elite athlete is to be a positive
role model. "Nobody ever gets put into the spotlight for doing it the
right way, or doing it clean and living the types of lifestyles that
are not only good for the sport, but good for young kids to look up
to," he said.
The 28-year-old Clay is married with two children,
and says he would never want his kids to feel the disgrace of a doping
scandal. Instead, he has trained tirelessly to be the best in the
decathlon, a grueling series of 10 athletics events. The winner is
recognized as the best all-around athlete in the world.
path to the decathlon was not planned. In fact, he says he was not
always a good role model. "I was not the best kid growing up. My mom
said I could either swim or run track and field. And I did not want to
wear a speedo, so I chose track. And the joke is, of course, that I
run around the track in spandex anyway, so it would not have made a
difference," he said.
Clay's athleticism and competitive spirit
would have served him well in the pool. But he may not have had the
same success that he has enjoyed in track and field. Clay was the
Olympic decathlon silver medalist in 2004, the World Outdoor champion
in 2005 and the World Indoor heptathlon champion this year.
was ranked No. 1 in the world in decathlon in 2005 and 2006, becoming
the first American to hold that distinction in consecutive years since
Dan O'Brien in 1995 and 1996.
At the 2005 World Outdoor
Championships in Helsinki, Finland, Clay delivered an amazing
performance in atrocious conditions to win the gold medal with a
world-best total that year of 8,732 points. Clay won by a
211-point margin over reigning Olympic champion Roman Sebrle of the
Clay is aiming for a similar dominance in
Beijing. "My mind is set on winning the gold medal. I do not know what
the score is going to be, what it is going to take. All I know is I am
going to go there. I am going to compete. And whether that is
eight-thousand points or whether that is a world record at
nine-thousand points, I am going to do whatever it takes to make sure I
am standing at the top of the podium,"
After setting a
personal best of 8,660 points with his win at the 2004
Olympic Trials, Clay bettered that effort with his silver medal-winning
total of 8,820 points at the 2004 Olympic Games in
Athens. That tally was the fourth-best in Olympic history, trailing
only gold medal-winning performances by Roman Sebrle in 2004 (8,893),
American Dan O'Brien in 1996 (8,824) and Great Britain's Daley Thompson
(8,847) in 1984.
On Monday at the U.S. Olympic trials for Beijing held in Eugene,Oregon, Clay set another personal record with 8,832 points.
Clay appears to be peaking at the right time, and he hopes he can
improve one place from four years ago, and win the gold medal at the