Published August 03, 2012
The "World's Greatest Athlete" is not a title lightly applied to many people, but for Bryan Clay, a member of BP Team USA, it's not only fitting, but an accomplishment he earned.
Clay won the gold medal at the 2008 Olympics in decathlon, which comes with it the distinction of being considered the best athlete on Earth. The decathlon is a two-day competition, consisting of 10 track and field events: day one is the 100m, long jump, shot put, high jump and the 400m. On day two, it's 110m hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1500m.
Born in Austin, Texas, Clay eventually moved to Hawaii after his parents divorced (he was raised mostly by his mother), where he worked at his grandfather's Kimchi company -- a traditional Korean dish -- as a teenager. His parents' divorce was hard on Clay, which, on the advice of a counselor, led him to the track.
Clay went on to attend Azusa Pacific University, where he was a member of the track team. He went to his first Olympics in 2004 and won the silver in decathlon, finishing behind only the Czech Republic's Roman Šebrle, considered by many to be one of the best decathletes of all time (he held the world record from May of 2001 until June of this year, when American Ashton Eaton surpassed his mark).
A year later, at the World Championships in Helsinki, Clay finished first, beating Šebrle in the process. In the Summer Olympics at Beijing, Clay had his best performance yet, winning gold by the largest pont margin since 1972. The win earned Clay that elusive title of "World's Greatest Athlete" and even got him on the front of a Wheaties box.
Clay followed up his Olympic victory with golds in hepthathlon in both the 2008 and 2010 IAAF World Indoor Championships.
Although Clay was unable to qualify for decathlon again in the 2012 Olympics -- he called it "the worst feeling ever" after stumbling over a hurdle -- he has still be a supportive, vocal member of Team USA, rooting for the Americans in London.
With his wife, Sarah Smith, Clay has a son, Jacob, and two daughters, Katherine and Elizabeth.
For more on Bryan Clay, including video of him telling his story, visit the official site of BP Team USA.