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Update: Bryan Clay Won’t Seek Score to Compete in London Decathlon

Fans end drive on behalf of Glendora Olympic champion, who won’t “chase the ‘A’ standard.”

Bryan Clay of Glendora has decided not to challenge USA Track & Field rules and seek another try at the decathlon before a July 8 deadline of the International Olympic Committee.

“My love of the sport compels me to preserve its integrity,” Clay told The New York Times via email. “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.”

Until Clay’s decision, his 12th-place finish in the Olympic Trials didn’t dissuade his fans, who thought he could still make the London Olympic team.

John Burdett, a friend of the Glendora resident and fellow Azusa Pacific graduate, had launched an online effort to persuade USA Track & Field to let Clay compete once more this summer and gain the Olympic “A” qualifying standard of 8200 points.

But Clay’s wife, Sarah, posted a note saying appeals would end:

While Bryan and I are amazed and honored by all of the support that has been flying around Facebook, we have to say that we can not support the movement to Chase the A Standard. We stand behind the rules and decisions of our governing bodies. We have been leaning on this verse "Wait for the LORD; be strong, take heart and wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:14 We feel that is the stance we want to take; to wait for our Lord to show us what His plan is, whatever that might be.

Only two Americans—Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee—have met the standard this season, with Eaton setting the world record over the weekend at 9,039 points at the meet in Eugene, OR.

USATF officials have said the team will be set at the end of the Trials on Sunday, basically ruling out an effort to qualify after that day.

Late Monday afternoon, track federation spokeswoman Jill Geer said: “USATF at the present time has not considered extending a deadline to get the A standard for any athlete.”

Earlier, Burdett wrote: “As you know, Bryan Clay’s Olympic Trials had an unfortunate outcome.  However, there is a movement beginning to urge USATF to made an exception—a completely rational one—and allow Bryan to chase the Olympic ‘A’ qualifying standard before the IOC deadline” of July 8.

Clay and others in his situation could then have another chance to make the team in a spot that is currently empty, Burdett said in email to Patch. 

Burdett’s arguments were posted on his own page as well as this Facebook page, started by another fan, called “Let American Athletes chase the A Standard.” 

Clay scored 7,092 points despite getting none in the discus and few in the 110-meter hurdles after crashing the last two barriers. He is the defending Olympic champion and has an all-tim best of 8,832 points.

Now Burdett’s page says: “Thank you to all of you who have supported Sarah, Bryan and the rest of the athletes in their situation. Our voice has been heard, and now it's their request that we respectfully allow God to move in whatever way He wants to at this point, without further petitioning.”

Originally, Burdett urged fans of Clay to write John Chaplin, chairman of the USATF Track  High Performance Division-Men's Track and Field Committee, by email or phone, saing: “Let’s flood this guy’s inbox and voicemail.”

He gave a phone number and Chpalin's email address of Jpchaplin@hughes.net.

Finally, at 1:25 p.m. Tuesday, USATF released this statement by Clay:

Last Saturday afternoon, following the completion of the U.S. Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon, I met one of my “deca heroes,” Rafer Johnson. If you follow the sport, you know that Rafer won the silver medal in the decathlon in Melbourne in 1956, and the gold in Rome in 1960.

Rafer once stated that “The whole decathlon is ridiculous, but the 1,500 meters is insanity.” I must say that over the last 15 years I have come to love the ridiculousness that is the decathlon, and even the insanity that is the 1500 (though the 1500 has always been my bane). Frankly, it is difficult for me to imagine life without it.  

For that reason, among others, I am torn by the post-U.S. Olympic Trials discussion regarding whether the USATF should allow me, or another athlete, to fill the final spot on the U.S. decathlon team by achieving the “A” standard prior to the July 8 International Olympic Committee (“IOC”) deadline for completion of the Olympic team roster.  

Why am I torn? On one hand, my love of the sport compels me to defend my title. I would give almost anything to compete at the Olympics in London. I love the sport; I love my competitors; I love the competition. Further, I am grateful and humbled by the support of my family, friends, fans and sponsors, and, for their sake, as well as mine, I’d like to have one more go at it.  

On the other hand, my love of the sport compels me 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.  

At this stage I am looking forward to attending the games in London as a supporter of the USOC, as an ambassador to my sponsors, and as a spectator. Let me assure you that I intend to be the loudest and most fervent supporter of both Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee. I expect a gold and silver medal, and perhaps another world record. 

The last few days have been quite emotional for me and I want to again thank my family, friends and sponsors for all their support. I hope to continue to make a positive impact on the sport that I love, both on and off the track, and am I excited for what the future holds.

Sandra Hudgens June 25, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Yes Bryan should be allowed to try since the 110 hurdles was over turned
Ken Stone June 28, 2012 at 06:01 PM
A comment on the Letsrun.com message board makes the point that USATF policy is to send the most athletes to Olympics, and hence should give Bryan Clay a chance to get a higher score before July 8 IOC deadline: http://www.letsrun.com/2012/clay-0628.php

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