GOLD MEDALIST INSPIRES YOUTH
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Olympic decathlon gold medalist Bryan Clay was joined at the lectern by his daughter Katherine, age 16 months, yesterday as he addressed the audience gathered at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center for a welcome-home ceremony and news conference.
Olympic welcome greets medalist
Bryan Clay thanks his home state for supporting his effort to win the decathlon
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Giving back to Hawaii supporters, Olympic gold medalist Bryan Clay kicked off his autograph-signing tour on Oahu yesterday.
"I've said this before and I'll say it again: I think Hawaii is the most supportive state in the country," said Clay during a news conference at the Governor's Office.
Gov. Linda Lingle proclaimed yesterday Bryan Clay Day as she donned the decathlete's Olympic gold medal.
The 28-year-old hopes his achievement inspires the children of Hawaii to run and jump for their dreams, too.
"I just don't think that kids in Hawaii realize there's so much more out there," said the Castle High School graduate. "We've got so much talent in Hawaii, an unbelievable amount of talent in Hawaii. I think a lot of it goes overlooked."
NALEA J. KO
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Olympic decathlon gold medalist Bryan Clay addressed the audience at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center for a welcome-home ceremony and news conference yesterday.
FULL STORY »
Wearing Bryan Clay's Olympic gold medal, Gov. Linda Lingle welcomed the "the world's greatest athlete" back home.
"What an exciting day for the people in the state of Hawaii," said Lingle before proclaiming yesterday Bryan Clay Day.
The World’s Best Athlete, Bryan Clay is finally back home and is embraced by locals and fans, proud of his accomplishments during the Olympic games.
Receiving his medal back from Lingle, the Castle High School graduate thanked the people of Hawaii: "I can't tell you how unbelievably supported I felt over this last year."
A self-proclaimed troublemaker in school, Clay said he was not the strongest or most academically gifted child.
"I had to work really hard to do what other people did very, very easily," said Clay, who took the Olympic decathlon title by a comfortable margin despite suffering from asthma. He is the first American in 12 years to win the decathlon.
Working 12-14 hours a day, Clay said the Olympics in Beijing was the hardest thing he ever did and that if he can do it, anyone can.
"I just don't think that kids in Hawaii realize there's so much more out there," said Clay. "You can do anything. If you want to be a doctor, you can be a doctor. If you want to be an astronaut, you can be a astronaut. You can be a gold medalist in the decathlon."
The 28-year-old hopes his story will encourage Hawaii children. His message of persevering is also the heart of his organization the Bryan Clay Foundation, which offers scholarships to qualified Hawaii students.
Excited to be home, the 1998 Castle grad vowed to stop by Zippy's and Big City Diner but joked that kids should eat their Wheaties.
"You've really arrived if you're on the Wheaties box. I think my brother was the first person I called. I mean I was like, 'Dude, you're not going to believe it, I'm on the Wheaties box,'" said Clay. He will be featured on a commemorative edition of Wheaties.
With all of his success, the Olympian is not slowing his stride any time soon. Clay has his sights set on the Olympics in 2012, where he will try to be a three-time medalist in the decathlon. He won the silver medal in Athens, Greece, in 2004.
"It's kind of surreal. It's something I've been working for since I was 8 years old." Clay added, "I don't know if it will ever sink in that I'm a gold medalist."
After leaving the Governor's Office, Clay headed to the Royal Hawaiian Center where about 10 people were waiting in line since 6 a.m. to get an autograph. On sale for $30 each were about 1,500 T-shirts from Clay's clothing line "Angry Genes."
His press tour winds down today with a visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe. Free pizza will be provided at the public event held at the chapel on base. Doors open at 6 p.m. Attendees must provide identification at the front gate. For more information, visit www.mcbh.usmc.mil.