Azusa Pacific great Bryan Clay, the 2008 Olympic decathlon gold medalist, lends his expertise to the Cougar coaching staff with focused attention to the high jump
As a two-time world champion and two-time Olympic medalist (2004 silver medal) in the decathlon, Clay used his phenomenal speed and power with his compact frame to excel in the sprinting and throwing events. Clay's best events were the discus, 100, long jump, and 110m hurdles.
As a sophomore at Castle High School, Clay attended a track clinic where he met Chris Huffins, the bronze medalist from the 2000 Olympic decathlon in Sydney, Australia. Huffins recognized Clay's potential and encouraged him to train for the decathlon. Later, Huffins introduced Clay to Kevin Reid, a track coach at Azusa Pacific. Reid, a well established track and field coach, had helped train the 1992 Olympic decathlon bronze medalist Dave Johnson. Consequently, Clay attended Azusa Pacific where he trained under the guidance of Reid. To this day, Reid remains Clay's instructor and close friend.
At Azusa Pacific, Clay became a 23-time NAIA All-American, which is believed to a record amount for any NAIA athlete ever. Clay won national titles for the decathlon in 2000 and the long jump in 2001. While an undergrad, Clay placed third in the decathlon at the 2001 Nationals with a score of 8,169 points; the fourth-best total by an American that year. At age 21, Clay was the 2001 U.S. Championship Bronze Medal in his first U.S. Championship competition. Clay also secured his position as a World Championship Team member in 2001. However, he was unable to finish on account of a hip injury.
As a senior in 2002, Clay led the Azusa Pacific to national indoor and outdoor championships, the first time that a team double had ever been accomplished. Clay was recognized as an NAIA "Outstanding Performer" after winning the pentathlon and the long jump in the 2002 NAIA Outdoor Championships. Clay finished second to Tom Pappas in the 2002 and 2003 U.S. Outdoor Championships. In 2003, Clay was also a member of the World Championship Team although a torn hamstring hindered him from competing.
In 2004, Bryan Clay won the silver at the World Indoor Championships. He finished with a total of 6369 points; the second highest score ever achieved by an American in heptathlon. Clay went on to defeat Pappas to win the decathlon event at the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials. In the 2004 Olympic Games held in Athens Greece, Clay won the silver medal for the decathlon. Here too, Clay achieved the second highest score ever by an American decathlete (8820 pts). He followed that performance in 2005 with a win at the World Championships and in 2006 he was ranked as the No. 1 decathlete in the world.
However, Bryan's training in the latter part of 2006 and into 2007 was limited by injury and illness. Clay was unable to finish the 2006 U.S. Outdoor Championships due to low blood sugar. In 2007, a sore knee forced him to withdraw from the U.S. Outdoor Championships, and later a quadriceps injury during the high jump kept him from competing in the World Championships.
After regaining his health, Clay competed in the heptathlon at the 2008 World Indoor Championships. He began with a win in the 60m and took three more events, scoring a personal best 6,371 points for his second world title. In 2008, he won the Olympic Trials in Oregon with a personal best score of 8,832 points, which was a new Olympic Trials record. Again, his score at the 2008 trials was ranked the second-highest score in American history.
Bryan went on to win the gold medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics where he led his competitors in points from start (achieving the best time in the 100m) to finish (when he finally crossed the finish line in the 1500m heat). Amazingly, Clay won with a 240-point margin, the largest winning margin since 1972. He finished with a total of 8,791 points. As a result of Bryan's intense training, passion and determination, and the support of his family, friends, and coaches he became an "Olympic Champion" and earned the title "The World's Greatest Athlete".
In 2012, Clay went to the U.S. Olympic Trials to secure a chance to travel to London and potentially become the first-ever decathlete to win three Olympic medals. However, an unfortunate fall in the hurdles and three fouls in the discus resulted in a 12th-place finish at the trials. During the Olympics, Clay served as a FOX Sports studio analyst covering the London Games.
Prior to his Olympic bid, Clay authored his first book, titled Redemption: A Rebellious Spirit, a Praying Mother, and the Unlikely Path to Olympic Gold.
Today Bryan lives in Glendora, Calif., with his wife, Sarah, and their three children.