The changing of the guard: 2004 Olympic decathlon champion Roman Sebrle salutes the new champion, Bryan Clay (© Getty Images)
As Olympic champion Bryan Clay looks ahead towards his next athletics goal, the American is keen to follow World record holder Roman Sebrle’s advice…
“Since the last time I wrote I have been spending most of my day training and it’s going great. But I have also had lots of discussions with my manager Paul Doyle and my other coaches about coming off an Olympic year and mentally trying to find the motivation to get back in the swing of things. I think we have found it.
“A long time ago I asked my good friend Roman Sebrle: “What does it take to break the World record?” He said “You need to have two consecutive years without injuries and maintain great shape. If you can do that you will be ready to break the World record.”
“So we have decided the goal is to train and compete but what I really want to do is build on things I have done the last few years. I am still busy speaking to lot of kids at schools, going to a lot of events and doing appearances.
“That frees me up mentally and physically to go out to the track and have fun. When all this off track stuff dies down we will see what happens. It’s pretty busy but I am having fun with it. It’s a little difficult to train. You take your time you don't rush anything. All good things come to those who wait and persevere, I am looking for that to come true for me.
“I don’t know that it is going to happen this year but I am now focusing on going after the American Record (Dan O’Brien 8891 points) and Roman’s World record (9026 points) next year. We have the Olympic gold at this point. Next year we are going to come out and make a serious run at the World record and go to meets where we can have the best conditions. I’d like to see if I can end my career at the top of the record books
“I think Gotzis is a great meet, of course. It’s one of my favourite meets. Talence is a great meet as well but it’s a little more difficult for me to go to because it’s in September. Usually by September I am so mentally and physically tired I want the season to be over. But in 2010 there’s no Olympics or World Championships so Talence is a meet that’s in the picture.
“So what do I need to go after the World record? Of course, I need to improve upon the 1500m or rather, get more consistent in the 1500m. There is room for improvement in all my events but I want to become as consistent as possible in every one of them. If you look at my decathlons you will see I have had some pretty good scores but I have had some pretty disappointing events in those big scores.
“I scored 8820 in Athens and I had a very poor 400m and hurdles there. Then I came back and scored 8732 in the pouring rain in Helsinki. I scored 8832 at the 2008 US Olympic trials in Oregon and had a very, very poor shot put. Then I came back at the Olympics and I scored 8791 and had a very, very poor high jump. I think I can be more well rounded and become more consistent with every event and by that I mean being consistently near my personal best in every event.
“So as I look ahead to 2009 my intention is to go to the World Championships in Berlin. By no means do I think that I can pass on Berlin. I think I need to go to Berlin and have a good solid meet and not put any pressure on myself to break any world records just have a solid meet. I will get in the best shape I can and build on the momentum I had from the Olympics so I can go into 2010 with an unbelievable base.
“I want to be able to choose where and when I am going to go after the World record. If I can get through this next year and have a good year of training I think I can do that in 2010. It’s pretty exciting to think about.”