Sunday, June 21

An Athlete to Cheer For

One of the great things about being closely involved with track and field is not just the chance to get to know some outstanding athletes, but some incredible people. The sport is filled with men and women of great character. Unfortunately, most folks in the US - including sports fans - don't know much about our track and field athletes. They couldn't tell you who the stars are track and field (except for maybe an Olympic year) or who are the people of character (except for the occasional athlete caught using performance enhancing drugs). Though I could give you a whole list of great people worth your attention and applause, I want to highlight one for you. Bryan Clay.

You might recognize the name. After all, he won the Olympic gold medal last year in the decathlon. He has been on the Wheaties box. On Letterman and Leno and Oprah. Though I have officiated Bryan a few times, I don't know him well. But I do respect him. Not only as an athlete (and the decathlon is a great test of an athlete's strength, speed, and mental toughness), but also as a man of character and values. Here is a quote for a recent interview in the July addition of Track and Field News:

"I look at what I've accomplished and my goal always has been to create a platform to go out and relate the Kingdom of God.

I always tell people, 'I accomplished what I have on the track because I was a champion in life first.' It wasn't the other way around. I was able to do what I've done on the track because I took care of my responsibilities spiritually and also with my family. I give 100% to those areas. If I do that, it frees me - mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually - to give 100% to track and field.

I also believe you have to have balance. I always say my priorities are God first, family second and track third. That's my motto.

When I can put God first, it gives me the parameters, the focus, everything I need to make my family happy. Being the father and husband I need to be, making them happy, that allows me the freedom emotionally and physically to give 100% to the sport. If I have distractions in those other areas, then I can't give track 100%. So the priorities are very important and I really try to live my life by them."

So when you watch the US Championships this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (and you need to watch them), be sure and cheer for Bryan Clay. You can even follow him on Twitter: @bryanclay.

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