EUGENE, Ore. >> Bryan Clay’s dream of becoming the first decathlete in history to medal at three different Olympics won’t come true this year after the Castle High alum stumbled in the 110 hurdles this morning at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials.
Clay, the 2008 gold medalist and ’04 silver medalist, began the decathlon’s second day in third place overall, but was disqualified in the day’s first event after smashing into the final hurdle and pushing it with his hands. Clay then walked across the finish line for a time of 16.81 before throwing his sunglasses to the ground. The DQ — for pushing the hurdle with his hands — was announced after he left the track.
That decision was later reversed by USA Track and Field, giving him 644 points in the event for his 16.81-second finish.
But the damage to Clay’s Olympic hopes, however, is irreversible; in the event that followed the 110s, he fouled on all three attempts in the discus, failing to earn a score.
Clay needed to finish in the top three and reach the Olympic A standard of 8,200 points, but wound up in 12th. He received big ovations from the Hayward Field crowd as he tried to qualify in the discus. Had Clay known the points from the hurdles would have counted, he might not have gone so hard to make a great throw.
Four years ago at Hayward, Clay set a Trials record with 8,832 points, before going on to win the gold medal in Beijing. That gave him two Olympic decathlon medals, after he earned silver in 2004 in Athens.
While Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee are widely considered the future of the U.S. decathlon — they finished 1-21 today — there still appeared to be plenty of room for Clay in the present, with many track and field analysts expecting him to be part of a U.S. medals sweep this summer. A bronze or better would have made Clay the first decathlete to medal three times.