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Olympic Gold Medalist Bryan Clay Shares The Value Of Integrity In Becoming “The World’s Greatest Athlete”

 Olympic Gold Medalist Bryan Clay
Olympic Gold Medalist Bryan Clay

He was crowned The World’s Greatest Athlete after winning gold in the Decathlon at the 2008 Olympics, and he took the time to sit down with us and share what Achieving Gr8ness means to him. Meet Bryan Clay: husband, father, motivator, advisor, ambassador of active healthy living and Olympic Gold Medalist. Bryan Clay has not only overcome incredible adversity to achieve immense goals, but he continues to motivate and inspire the world through his mission to build champions and change lives through his efforts with The Bryan Clay Foundation

Feeling inspired yet? Keep reading for the inside scoop on what it takes to make it to the top -- and to keep climbing when you get there!

Gr8ness can be defined in many ways. Through the eyes of an Olympic gold medalist and someone who has been tagged with the title “The World’s Greatest Athlete,” what defines gr8ness to you?

Bryan Clay: I guess that definition has changed for me over time... While some people believe athletic performance/achievement is enough to define greatness, I'd argue there has to be more. I mean if you achieve great feats but you lie, cheat, steal, or sell your soul to do so, does that really count? I guess I'm just an advocate for looking at someone’s entire life before deciding if they are great. Please recognize that I didn't say they had to be perfect -- no one will ever be -- just that it should include more than just athleticism or how much money they make. I really wish we celebrated and valued good people and their stories more than just good athletes or rich people.

What was the defining moment that told you track and field was a way that you would be able to achieve gr8ness in your life? How did you get to such a high level of achievement in the sport?

BC: Well, I don't think track and field told me that... I believe that my efforts to achieve greatness are still underway. Track and field just opened up more opportunities to achieve greatness over my lifetime.

Bryan Clay in the olympic games
Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America (
June 21, 2012)

What was the biggest obstacle during your youth years in Hawaii that you had to overcome? (and how did you overcome this)?

BC: I think the biggest obstacle for me growing up was the lack of clarity for the future... I had dreams but my reality seemed to draw a different picture... It took a lot of time, mistakes, love and guidance before I could clearly see my potential contribution to the world.

What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome AFTER being crowned the World’s Greatest Athlete? (and how did you overcome this)?

BC: The biggest obstacle to overcome once I won... hmm... well there have been many, but I guess it was to not allow that one moment in my life to become the greatest moment in my life. I have a wife and three kids that mean the world to me and while I'm far from perfect I hope to one day be considered a great husband and father. I also have other professional goals I am currently working on. In terms of how I overcome these struggles... well it's a combination of things, my faith, my family and my friends.

While you were competing, what did success look like for you? Now that your competition years are over, has that vision changed (and how so)?

BC: While competing success had to do with execution. Whether at a meet or in practice, I always went out and tried to execute the plan we had for that particular day. Usually that plan consisted of physical achievements as well as mental, emotional and spiritual goals. Now that I'm retired not much has changed. I try to bring the same skills I practiced in my athletic career into my family life and businesses.

Walk us through a day in the life of Bryan Clay: husband, father, businessman, and still the World’s Greatest Athlete.

BC: Well, a typical day starts with the setting of priorities. I wake up and have some quiet time with my wife where we both have some coffee and read our individual devotionals. Then we wake up our kids for school and we're off to the races. As soon as the kids are dropped off at school, I immediately roll into conference calls for my business while I drive into a meeting. That pretty much continues throughout the day until the kids get home from school. Then we take all three of them to different pools for swim practice. While they're at swim practice, my wife and I try to get in a quick run. Once we're done we pick everyone up and head home for homework, dinner, and family time. Then it's sleep!

Bryan Clay: Life After the Olympics

Bryan Clay (@bryanclay) staying active with wife Sarah Clay

What does the Clay family eating regimen look like? Has it changed since your competitive years and the children growing up?

BC: Ha, with life as on the go as it is we definitely go through seasons where we don't eat as well as we would like to, however my wife Sarah is absolutely amazing. We always eat dinner together as a family around the dinner table with a healthy meal. I have no idea how she finds the time to prep and get everything cooked but I'm convinced she has some special mom powers or something. 

If you could do one last decathlon anywhere in the world, where would it be?

BC: Oh wow, this is a tough question... I guess I'd go back in time to Austria. There is a little town there called Goetzis that held the best decathlons ever. The backdrop of the track is the Austrian Alps and the crowd was always amazing!

What does balance mean to you and how do you practice it?

BC: Balance in life is tricky... For me it means that my priorities have to be in the proper order: Faith, Family, and everything else. 

Just for fun: You're stuck on an island and can only take three food items with you. What would they be?

BC: Hmm, I'm not sure... I guess I'm a little more practical... I'd rather take a few items for survival and just catch my food. 

What’s your number one tip for anyone who wants to achieve gr8ness in their lives?

BC: I guess it would be to know what you stand for and have your priorities in the right order. Those things become the foundation for every decision you make. At the end of the day, win or lose, you want to be able to be proud of the life you lived.


Photo Sources:

Photo 1: Aug. 21, 2008 - Source: Mark Dadswell/Getty Images AsiaPac

Photo 2: June 21, 2012 - Source: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America