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Clay Invitational Gets Golden Touch

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Photo by Azusa Pacific University
The Bryan Clay Invitational on Friday, April 19, is now sponsored by Asics, Oakley, Chick-Fil-A, and the Bryan Clay Foundation.

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April 9, 2013
Joe Reinsch

AZUSA, Calif. -- The fifth annual Bryan Clay Invitational will feature official meet sponsors for the first time in the meet’s history, with Asics, Oakley, and Chick-Fil-A working alongside the Bryan Clay Foundation to help raise the profile of one of Southern California’s largest collegiate meets.

“The goal is to have this meet continue to grow and be one of the premier meets in the country in the coming years,” said Clay, who won Olympic gold in 2008 to add to the silver he won in 2004. “My ultimate vision is to see huge areas of the parking lot blocked off for a whole event experience, to allow fans and participants to be able to experience Azusa Pacific and what we offer.”

The meet, which has hosted over 1,000 competitors three times in four years and grew to nearly 1,300 entries in 2012, is again expected to easily top a count of 1,000 athletes on Friday, April 19. That meet follows two days of world-class competition at the prestigious Mt. SAC Relays and California Invitational combined events meet, which is also hosted by Azusa Pacific and is the nation’s largest invitational combined events meet.

“It was scary for us five years ago to start calling this meet the Bryan Clay Invitational, because we know his character and discipline,” said Azusa Pacific Director of Track & Field Mike Barnett. “When you host a meet named after the ‘World’s Greatest Athlete,’ it keeps you focused on creating an atmosphere of excellence. Our staff does a very good job of keeping the meet on time, running it professionally, getting through all the heats, and posting results. We have been told that it’s a well-oiled machine, and we work very hard to protect that.”

As a result of the partnerships with the new meet sponsors, every Bryan Clay Invitational individual event champion will win a championship prize pack, which will include a backpack courtesy of Asics along with a new pair of sunglasses provided by Oakley.

Meet day concessions will be run by Chick-Fil-A, which recently opened a new restaurant within walking distance of Cougar Athletic Stadium, at the corner of Citrus Avenue and Alosta Avenue.

The Bryan Clay Foundation will provide shirts to every competitor in the decathlon and heptathlon competitions, whose entries were announced last week. In addition, the foundation will also contribute shirts which will be worn by event staff and volunteers.

“A meet like this is important, especially this time of year, because this is a critical time for people to not only see where they’re at for outdoor season, but also as a chance to qualify for regional or national championships,” Clay said. “As an athlete, you want to find a good meet with good weather and a decent crowd. Some of the big meets this time of year are an absolute zoo, so one of the things I like about our meet is that it’s not too big, so the athletes will be able to concentrate and compete at their best. This meet provides a good opportunity for people to come out early in the season and get their times before they get back into their training cycle.”

The fifth annual Bryan Clay Invitational begins at 9 a.m. on Friday, April 19, with 22 events scheduled to take place on the track through the final event, which is the women’s 5,000 meters scheduled for 6:40 p.m. Click here for the full event schedule.