The Official Site of Bryan Clay

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Wed, Aug 6th 2008, 09:21

Clay's priorities in order for Games

In front of our eyes, Bryan Clay transformed himself from troubled boy wonder at Castle High School to the spectacular young man who won a silver medal at Athens. Four years later, as he closes on the Olympics of his dreams, Clay has become the man in the decathlon.
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“I really believe I can win a gold medal now,” said Clay, 28. “I think it is mine to give away, basically. If I’m doing what I need to do, I think the gold should be there.”

Fittingly, Clay made that comment while buying Olympic trials souvenirs with wife Sarah, son Jacob, 3 and daughter Kate, 1. He had just dominated the decathlon, with the sixth-best score in history (8,832 points). Yet Clay had already returned to the balance in his life he has fought so hard to find since leaving Kane’ohe a decade ago.

The demands back then were daunting: His parents’ divorce and a long period of acting out, finally tamed by track and field and the family’s growing faith. Martin Hee, Clay’s coach at Castle, is now 67 but can remember vividly explaining to Bryan’s mother, Michele Vandenburg, why it was OK for her son to compete in so many events — beyond the knowledge that he was so good and it prevented him from getting into trouble.

“His mother was kinda concerned so I had to break it down to her,” Hee recalled. “I told her, ‘Michele, he only needs 12 seconds for the 100, 25 for the 200 and 60 for the 400. He only runs two minutes. The field events he only needs to focus a few seconds.’ But I knew as long as he stayed occupied he knew what he had to do.”

After Castle, Clay found more direction at Azusa Pacific, with its “God First” motto and track coach Kevin Reid, a multi-event specialist who helped Dan O’Brien, of “Dan and Dave” fame, to the bronze medal in 1992. Clay also met his wife and ultimately became the man with whom she wanted to share her “walk with God.”

She supported him as a kindergarten teacher while he trained fulltime for the 2004 Olympics “and made my dream her dream.”

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