Bryan Clay's mother remains his biggest supporter

Michele Vandenburg
Michele Vandenburg

By Jason Tang - bio | email

KALIHI (KHNL) - For all of us here on the islands, he's the star of the Olympics.  No, we're not talking about Michael Phelps, we're talking about decathlete Bryan Clay.

The Castle High grad is looking to win the title of world's finest athlete.

When Bryan won the silver medal in Athens, there was nobody from home to help him celebrate.

Mainly because nobody expected him to medal.

That's not the case this year, he's a favorite to win the gold in Beijing, and if he does, he'll have someone really special there to celebrate with.

Four years ago, she watched Bryan win the silver medal in Athens from her home right here in Hawaii. This year, she won't need the TV.

"He wants us there, we want to be there, we've never experienced the Olympics and he feels he is going to win the gold," said Michele Vandenburg, Bryan's mother.

Bryan's mom is in Beijing to support her son, and she admits it's hard for her to see Bryan as a world class athlete.

"To me, I'm just his mom and so all this world hype and everything, it's difficult for me to see him in that light."

Most people recognize Bryan for his superior athletic abilities, but his mom says as a child, he was more mischievous than athletic.

"He was constantly just trying things out, especially us as his parents, he tried his teachers out, he tried everything and I think that's what gives him his strength and ability now because he's not afraid of anything."

Including success. And it takes place on the track, the field, and in his home. Something Michele chuckles at when comparing the Bryan of young, to the Bryan of now.

"He's so responsible now, he wants to be the best role model that he can be to his children, and I thought, well my goodness that has certainly changed, because growing up he certainly didn't stop to think about it."

Bryan's thoughts now go beyond himself and his family, according to his mother, a lot of what he does is for the benefit of others.

"His whole mission is to show that he believes, if you try your hardest and you don't quit, you can get there."

And if Bryan can get "there" this week, his mom will be on hand to witness his gold medal conclusion.

"I'll be crying, I'll be crying because I will be so happy that a dream, another dream for him will come true."

Bryan's wife Sarah, and his two kids also went to China to support him.