The book: “Redemption: A Rebellious Spirit, A Praying Mother and the Unlikely Path to Olympic Gold”
The author: Bryan Clay with Joel Kilpatrick
The publishing info: Thomas Nelson Books, 249 pages, $24.99
The background: Unfortunately, the Glendora resident and Azusa Pacific grad who won the decathlon by a huge margin at Beijing in 2008 and took silver in ’04 didn’t make it to the ’12 Games. He tripped over a barrier in the 110 meter hurdles the Olympic Trials in Oregon last month and thought he’d been DQ’d. Mentally out of it as he did his best event, the discus, he fouled on a throw and ended with a 12th-place finish.
But that hardly makes his life story any less relevant.
The son of an African-American dad who divorced his Japanese mom when he was five, Clay spent most of his youth in Hawaii, influenced by his Asian culture as well as Christian music. The born-again Christian focuses his book on how his faith turned him from an angry teenager who tried to pick fights and smoked pot into a Olympic champ.
The way he handled the disappointment at the ’12 Trials speaks to his character: “Anytime a decathlon goes bad, I think the athlete wants to pick up his stuff and walk off the track. It was everything I had to keep going. I’ve been working a long time to come out and put something together. There was a lot of hope and expectation there. When you see it all go out the window, it’s pretty disappointing, so it was important to finish. I didn’t want to finish. My coaches, thank goodness, made me finish. For my wife and kids, I had to finish. My kids were in the stands screaming. My nieces were here. . . .I want to be the best role model I can be. The last thing you want to do is quit at something. . . . We’ll come out next year. There’s always another team to be made.”