‘World's greatest athlete' reflects on his success

Bryan Clay
Bryan Clay

By Leland Kim - bio | email

HAWAII STATE CAPITOL (KHNL) -  Friday morning gold medalist decathlete Bryan Clay was  recognized from the highest office in the state.  Gov. Linda Lingle (R-Hawaii) declared Friday, "Bryan Clay Day," and the boy from Kaneohe is soaking it all in.

He made a mark for himself on the world's greatest stage, and in doing so, brought international fame to our state.

"I think Hawaii is the most supportive state in the country," said Clay. "I don't think anybody gets behind their athletes like Hawaii does and for that, I thank everybody in Hawaii for that."

One of his fans is Gov. Lingle, who found a special way to thank him.

"I, Linda Lingle, governor, and behalf of James "Duke" Aiona, Jr., lieutenant governor, in the state of Hawaii, do hereby proclaim August 29, 2008, as 'Bryan Clay Day' in Hawaii," she said.

This Kaneohe boy says this medal is a symbol of a life-long dream.

"Since I was 8 years old, I've been dreaming of being an Olympian," he said. "I saw Carl Lewis win the 100 meters and grab his flag and run around the track, and I turned to my mom and said, 'This is what I want to do. I want to be that.'"



And now Clay.

Like other U.S. decathlon legends, he will get his own Wheaties box.

"I think my brother was the first person I called when I found out," said Clay.  "'Dude, you're not going to believe it. I think I got the Wheaties box!'  And he's like, 'What?'  So he was all happy.  It was great. I'm looking forward to being able to walk down the aisle with my son and kind of let him see that, and I think that's going to be a lot of fun and it's going to be a pretty good memory."

Clay hopes his victory lets Hawaii kids know they can reach for the stars.

"I'm hoping that kids will be inspired by that," he said. "I'm hoping that kids in Hawaii -- especially in Hawaii -- will be inspired by that, and know that they can accomplish dreams and goals.  They just got to focus and work hard."

Realizing his 20-year dream, still feels like, well, a dream to Clay.

"To finally achieve that and to try to grasp it, it's almost impossible," he said. "I don't know if it will ever sink in."

Clay hopes to defend his title at the 2012 London Olympic Games.

As far as the next four years, he plans to train, of course.  He also wants to work with his foundation, do humanitarian work, and spend time with his family.