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Olympic Games 2008: Clay wins decathlon for USA

22 August 2008

Bryan Clay (USA) takes a victory lap after winning the decathlon with 8,791 points at National Stadium during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (Kirby Lee / Image of Sport) Bryan Clay (USA) takes a victory lap after winning the decathlon with 8,791 points at National Stadium during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games (Kirby Lee / Image of Sport)
American Bryan Clay outclassed the opposition to win gold in the Olympic decathlon on Friday, leading from start to finish in the two-day competition. His winning margin of 240 points was the most convincing in the multi-disciplined event since 1972.

Clay, who was born in Texas, grew up in Honolulu and has both African-American and Japanese-American parentage, had victory in his pocket after building a huge 479-point lead going into the 10th and final discipline.

The 28-year-old could even afford to jog around the 1,500 meters as the battle for silver and bronze took place well in front of him.

"I'm going home and getting something to eat and then straight to bed," Clay, who finished with 8,791 points, told reporters. "I've been telling people I'm in the best shape of my life, I've been training unbelievably hard."

Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus sealed the silver medal with 8,551 points after his best 1,500m time of the season. Cuban 20-year-old Leonel Suarez, who shone in javelin, overtook weary Russian Alexander Pogorelov to snatch bronze with 8,527.

With reigning Olympic and world champion Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic out of form, Clay arrived in Beijing as favourite to add the Olympic gold to the world title he won in 2005.

Right from the 100 meters, which started the event on Thursday, Clay, silver medallist in Athens four years ago, looked unbeatable. His only blips came in the high jump and 400 meters on Thursday when the field closed to within 88 points.

However, the American produced a classy run in the 110m hurdles at the start of the second day and never faltered again.

He posted a 53.79 meter discus throw to stretch his lead to 283 points before finishing third in the pole vault and then launching the javelin to 70.97m for another big points haul.

Clay's American teammate Trey Hardee lost his chances of a medal when he failed to record a height in the pole vault. He had been third going into the second day.

The United States had been on the podium in the previous two Olympics but Clay's victory was their first gold in the event since Dan O'Brien in 1996. "I still look back in the book and see all the guys I look up to and look at all the things that they accomplished," Clay said.

"This is a start, and if my body holds up I will continue to 2012 and try and get another medal. I don't think many get decathlon medals at three Olympics."

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