wins decathlon gold
Bryan Clay captures the second
Pan American gold medal
by a Hawaii athlete
The Castle alum was in second Friday
SUNDAY: VICTORIA CHANG WINS BRONZEBy Pat Bigold
TWO Hawaii athletes are coming home as medal winners at the 30-nation Pan American Junior Track and Field Championships over the weekend.
Former Castle High standout Bryan Clay won gold in the decathlon while Punahou junior Victoria Chang took bronze in the women's 3,000-meter final at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla.
Clay captured the decathlon gold in withering heat on Saturday.
He collapsed after finishing third in the decathlon's final and deciding event, the 1,500-meter run, and was helped off the track.
Clay scored 7,207 points to edge fellow American Marcell Almond (7,111) of California.
He became only the second Hawaii athlete to win at the Pan American Juniors since Joey Bunch captured the 800-meter title in 1984.
Chang, who had the nation's top two prep times in the 3,000 last spring, won her bronze today in cooler conditions.
The Hawaii pair helped the U.S. run away with medal honors at the USF Stadium Track.
The U.S. men's and women's team amassed 27 gold medals -- tops for the three-day meet -- while Jamaica was second with nine.
The U.S. total for gold-silver-bronze was 61. Jamaica was second with 21 while Canada was third with 14.
Chang, who last month won the Golden West Invitational 3,200 in Sacramento and was second in the USATF Junior Nationals 3,000, finished today's race in 9 minutes, 41.58 seconds.
Mexico's Madai Perez won the silver (9:38.44) and Arizona's Sara Gorton (9:33.98) took the gold. Gorton was the same runner who beat out Chang at the Junior Nationals.
Chang finished a strong 14 seconds ahead of her nearest rival for the bronze, Mexico's Kary Tripp.
The Tampa Tribune reported the condititons during Clay's victory were almost unbearable: "Sweltering humidity where the heat index soared into triple digits during much of the daylight hours."
The paper said it was the same kind of humidity that forced Dan O'Brien into a medical tent in Atlanta during the 1996 Olympics.
"His grandmother is there and she's crying, telling me Bryan's carrying the American flag around the track," said an emotional Michelle Vandenburgh, Clay's mother, on the phone yesterday. She had to stay home in Kaimuki but said her son's grandparents made the trip to Tampa from New York.
"I'm very surprised I scored that well," Clay, a freshman at Azusa Pacific College in California, told Tampa Tribune reporter Bill Ward.
According to the Tribune story, Clay also said, "When I look at my marks, they weren't great at all ... but everyone else had to deal with it (the heat) too. And you know, no matter where the Summer Olympics are, you've got a good chance of it being hot so why let it bother you?"
The athletes were cloistered during the games and were unavailable for telephone interviews.
Clay had to overcome a 17-point deficit to Jamaica's Maurice Smith, who led with 3,762 points after the first five events on Friday. Smith finished third with 6.996 points.
Clay held a nine-point lead over Smith going into the fifth event Friday. But he faltered in the 400 meters as Smith gained 785 points to Clay's 759.
He opened the decathlon competition by winning the 100-meter dash in 10.89 seconds.
He was second in the long jump, third in the shotput, third in the high jump, fourth in the 400 (51.22 seconds), second in the 110-meter high hurdles (14.99), second in the discus, second in the pole vault, first in the javelin and third in the 1,500 (4:51.36).
Clay is due home in Hawaii tomorrow afternoon. He will stay home about a week before reporting an Olympic development camp in San Diego.
The brightest moment for the U.S. squad came when the women's 4x100 team broke the world junior record. Alexis Joyce, Aleah Williams, Amber Robinson and Amaris Buchanan never had run together as a relay team before the meet but they combined for a record time of 43.38. That beat the old mark set by East Germany (1988) by a tenth of a second.
Pan American Track & Field Championships