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Sat, Sep 6th 2008, 09:55

Gold medalist in decathlon inspires students

MORRIS TWP. — Bryan Clay, gold medalist in the Olympic decathlon in Beijing last month, posed among statues of Greek gods in the Senior Garden of the Delbarton School campus on Friday and briefly addressed the 540 students of the all-boys seventh- through 12th-grade school.

Shortly after his early afternoon speech, Clay mingled with the students and some were fortunate enough to have their sneakers signed by the gold medalist. Later he posed for pictures before returning to the photo shoot among columns and 19th-century statues from Italy.

He told students he began training for track and field events as a sixth-grader.

“I never looked back,” he said.

Now, he has Nike and Visa contracts and, like Bruce Jenner before him, his likeness is due to grace the breakfast of champions — boxes of Wheaties.

Clay was brought to the campus by Stephen Bienko, his agent for the past two years and a 1994 graduate of the Roman Catholic school.

Bienko said the visit by Clay, following Clay’s speech at the Republican National Convention on Thursday night, was Bienko’s way of bringing a gold medal to Delbarton — something Bienko had hoped to do on his own as a track star at the school. Bienko still holds the school record in discus. He held out Clay’s gold medal as students swarmed him to touch it.

Clay told students dreams can come true and he told them the order of his priorities: “God first, family second, track third.”

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