Sunday, June 24, 2012

27 Feet. Decathlon World Record and ties second best long jump in the country. If there were any questions the winner of the Decathlon is the world's greatest athlete, Ashton Eaton answered them. 

Oh, you think maybe LeBron James or Josh Hamilton are better athletes? Fine. If they are the world's greatest athlete, give them a month or two to train for the Decathlon. Then have them compete against Ashton. If they score 7,000 points I'd be shocked. And that is 2,000 below Eaton. 

Jim Brown, Wilt Chamberlain and Bo Jackson - all three in the running for the greatest athletes ever - competed in Decathlons. Jackson was only in high school and Brown and Chamberlain competed in college. Even with Jackson's lightening fast 10.39 100  meters, all finished with respectable low-to-mid 6,000's. All were way down in the more technical events, discus, javelin, hurdles and especially the pole vault. 

Would they have done a lot better if they trained full time? Clearly.

Jackie Robinson never did a Decathlon, but his 100 and Long Jump results alone would have easily put in above 7,000 even with a marginal pole vault. 

This isn't Russia, Danny. We are only sending two athletes to compete in the London Olympics Decathlon because nobody finished above the Olympic standard of 8,200 after Eaton and Hardee. 

We should be allowed to send a full team of three and give Bryan Clay an exemption. He would have easily broken 8200 even with his stumble in the hurdles. 

As wonderful an event as the Decathlon is, it is singularly cruel in its ability to expose an athlete's weakness. Me? I had the mental and physical toughness, but I was way too tight. My success sadly culminated with a then-National best just-over 6,000 points at age 16 at the 1975 19-and-Under Junior Nationals at Cal State Hayward. (Won by Tony Hale from Fisk with something like 6874)

A month later I tore my hamstring after running a 4.5 40 for football. As a result I tore hamstrings and pulled backs and lost most of three full years of training in my 17 to 19 prime and constantly battled with injuries after that. (Truth be told, UCSB sorority girls and beer played a part) 

Bryan Clay has no such weaknesses. He has competed at the world's top level for over 12 years, which is unprecedented. At age 32 maybe rust, age and nerves caught up to him.

Clay had a lapse in the last two hurdles. OK, that is fine, he wasn't going to win the Decathlon, but he was still on track to qualify for the team and easily break the 8200 "A" standard. 

But when you have trained for over a year for an event and you have a huge disappointment in one event, the letdown is emotionally staggering. The urge to quit is overwhelming. 

Bryan Clay could not overcome that letdown and the best discus thrower in Decathlon history could not get a legal throw in. Insane. 

Bryan Clay is the reigning gold medal winner. He more than deserves a second chance and should be given the third spot on the 2012 Olympic Decathlon team. 

As a grateful country, let us not follow the shallow and vile acts of  those evil, greedy, Tiger-Woods-ass-smooching whores at Nike who dumped Clay as a sponsor. 

We are better than that. Hell, everyone is better than that.