EUGENE, Ore. >> Olympic decathlon champion Bryan Clay says he won’t pursue a spot on the Olympic team in London after faltering at the U.S. track trials.
Clay stumbled in the 110-meter hurdles then struggled in the discus during last weekend’s multi-event competition, finishing in 12th place.
Track’s national governing body allows for the top three finishers in each event at the trials to earn a spot on the U.S. team, provided they have the “A” standard required to compete in the Olympics.
Because only two U.S. decathletes had the standard — trials winner Ashton Eaton and runner-up Trey Hardee — only two spots on the team were filled. That led to some speculation that Clay might go for the standard at some point before the July 8 deadline set by the International Olympic Committee, and appeal to USA Track and Field for a place on the team.
Fans even started an online campaign to persuade Clay to chase the standard.
In a statement released by Clay today, an off-day for the trials at Hayward Field, he said his love of the sport compelled him to “preserve its integrity.”
“For this reason, and though it pains me, I believe that the USATF Committee’s decision to take only two decathletes to London is the right one. Ultimately, it is in the best interest of the sport to keep the integrity of the rules in place, and to support and uphold the decisions of the USATF Committee,” his statement said.
Clay was the gold medalist in the Beijing Games, becoming the first American to win the event since Dan O’Brien in 1996.
His finish at the trials dashed hopes of a rare U.S. sweep in the Olympics. Up-and-comer Eaton and reigning world champion Hardee, along with Clay, were considered the early favorites going into the London Games.
Eaton set a world record in the event at the trials with 9,039 points. Hardee finished second with 8,383 and Clay Horn — who also didn’t have the “A” standard of 8,200 points this season — was third with 7,954. Clay wound up with 7,092 points.