Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, July 12, 1999

H A W A I I _ S P O R T S

Isle pair medal
at Pan-Am

Castle grad Bryan Clay wins
the decathlon, and Punahou's
Victoria Chang takes bronze
in the 3,000

By Pat Bigold


Two Hawaii athletes are coming home from the 30-nation Pan American Junior Track and Field Championships as medal winners.

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., this weekend.

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. The other was Joey Bunch, who 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 last night in cooler conditions.

The Hawaii pair helped the U.S. run away with medal honors. The U.S. men's and women's team amassed 27 gold medals - tops for the three-day meet. Jamaica was second with nine.

The U.S. won 61 medals in all. Jamaica was second with 21. 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 yesterday's race in 9 minutes, 41.58 seconds.

Arizona's Sara Gorton (9:33.98) took the gold. Mexico's Madai Perez won the silver (9:38.44).

Gorton was the same runner who beat Chang at the Junior Nationals.

Chang finished a strong 14 seconds ahead of her nearest rival for the bronze.

The Tampa Tribune reported that condititons during Clay's victory were nearly 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," an emotional Michelle Vandenburgh, Clay's mother, said 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 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 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 to 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, beating East Germany's 1988 mark by a tenth of a second.

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