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Out of nationals decathlon, Oly champ Bryan Clay can focus on Chicago 2016

June 25, 2009 | 11:10 am


EUGENE, Ore. -- As you learned first what was possible from my Twitter feed Wednesday, 2008 Olympic decathlon champion Bryan Clay has pulled out of the U.S. Track & Field Championships with a hamstring problem.

According to Clay's agent, Paul Doyle, Clay tried a variety of treatments, including acupuncture and time in a hyperbaric chamber, before making his decision about an hour before the decathlon was to begin with the 100 meters this morning. He had first felt tightness in the hamstring Tuesday.

Clay's withdrawal means he also is out of the August World Championships, for which nationals is the qualifying meet.

"Unfortunately, we need a few more days,'' Doyle said. "He did a few knee lifts this morning and felt immediately he couldn't compete without putting the hamstring in jeopardy.''

Doyle said Clay, of Glendora, might try to find another decathlon competition in the next few weeks but intends to end his season by the end of July.

"Bryan was pretty exhausted from the whole Olympic experience, not only physically but mentally,'' Doyle said. "Our plan had been to take it relatively easy this year and then next year begin the three-year build for Bryan to try to win decathlon medals in three straight Olympics (he won silver in 2004).  He wants to compete in the indoor worlds and try to break indoor and outdoor world records in 2010.''

The abbreviated season will give Clay more time to work for Chicago's 2016 Olympic bid. He has won universal praise for his speeches on behalf of the bid. Mayor Richard M. Daley called one of Clay's presentations, given when he was Principal for a Day at the Williams Preparatory School of Medicine at Chicago's DuSable Campus, "one of the best speeches I ever have heard.''

Clay was the lead narrator on the venues video Chicago 2016 showed last week to the International Olympic Committee.

"I really believe in this bid,'' Clay said. "They are putting the athletes first.''

-- Philip Hersh

Photo: Bryan Clay celebrates his victory in 2008 Olympic decathlon. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times