Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

Forum for student expression since 1977

The Patriot Press

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‘The world’s greatest athlete’: Liberty track assistant Bryan Clay

In 2008, Bryan Clay received a hard earned honor many seek, yet few find–his Olympic gold Medal as a member of team USA for winning the decathlon, a track and field event that includes ten events completed over two days in Beijing, China. Now he coaches as the Assistant Throwing Coach for Liberty’s track program.

What title is the gold medal winner of the event often affectionately called by fans and the media alike? ‘The world’s greatest athlete.’

“Lots of kids in track and field say they want to make the Olympics, but the reality is that it’ll never happen for most people,” Clay said, who not only won gold, but also earned a silver medal for his accolades representing Team USA in the 2004 Olympic games in Athens, Greece. 

When Clay was a kid, he struggled with behavioral issues, acting up in school and getting into fights. That’s when a counselor told his mom, “Bryan won’t go down a good path if he doesn’t play sports.” When his mom told him he could choose between swimming and doing track, not wanting him to play any sport where he could get aggressive towards a competitor, he chose track, jokingly recounting, “I was deathly afraid of wearing a speedo, so that was an easy decision for me.”

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As a middle school student growing up in Hawaii, he fell in love with the sport.

“Track became a sanctuary for me,” Clay said. “It became the place where everything in my life was on pause, and when I started in this sport, all the stresses in my life would just pause when I was practicing and competing.” His passion for the sport only grew, and after visiting Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California, he took a hold of his opportunity to compete in track and field as an APU Cougar. 

After making his first World Championship team in 2001, which takes place in non-Olympic years, Clay continued to dominate at Azusa through 2002, getting his first Summer Olympic Games opportunity in 2004 as a 24-year-old, recently graduated and married. He made a strong first impression winning silver, but that was only the appetizer before 2008. Of course, this is the year he earned the moniker of ‘world’s greatest athlete.’

As his pro track and field career came to a close, capstoned by his biggest win of his athletic career, Clay turned his attention to his businesses in the the health, wellness, and fitness industry. Moving to Greater Seattle for work six years ago, it was when his son Jacob started doing track during the pandemic-shortened season that Clay started coming to his practices and games to support him and provide some coaching. 

After connecting with head track coach and PE teacher Brad Anderson, he began showing up as a volunteer to help coach the team, specifically their throwers, in how to throw the javelin. Now with two seasons of volunteer experience already under his belt, Clay is in his first season as the official Assistant Throwing coach and finds great purpose in what he does.

“The most rewarding part of coaching is potentially exposing athletes to things they’ve never been exposed to before, and being able to still be involved in the sport I love,” Clay said. “My coaches helped me a great deal throughout my journey, and I want to do the same for young athletes here at Liberty.”

 

About the Contributor
Lucas Counts
Lucas Counts, Editorial Board Member
Lucas Counts is a senior at Liberty High School and an Editorial Board Member of the Patriot Press, in addition to being the Online Editor. In his free time, he is a professional writer of 4+ years, is passionate about business, and loves nature.