By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
After five events in the decathlon at the Olympics in Beijing, Kevin Reid could be described as cautiously optimistic, knowing that another solid performance by Bryan Clay would likely mean gold.
Now after eight events, Clay is a virtual lock to claim the title as World's Greatest Athlete. Clay has a sizeable lead after seven events. At press time, Clay had cleared 15 feet, 7 1/2 inches, the last real obstacle between Clay and the gold.
Still left for Clay was the javelin, one of his strongest events and the 1,500 meters. By the time the 1,500 meters is run early this morning, the gold for Clay should be a foregone conclusion.
Clay got off to an outstanding start in the first three events and has never looked back. Despite a heavy rain, Clay began by winning the 100 meters in 10.44 seconds.
"Not bad," said Reid, a 1983 Carson High graduate, who is Clay's coach. "It was pouring down rain, but he came out and just had a great 100."
Clay followed up the 100 with solid efforts in the long jump and the shot put. He leaped 25 feet, 6 1/4 inches in the long jump, then uncorked a personal best of 53 feet, 4 1/2 inches in the shot put.
Then after a break, Clay seemed to lose some of his momentum. He had respectable, but not great efforts in the high jump and 400. He cleared 6-6 1/4 in the high jump, below his personal best of 6-9 3/4 that he set at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. He then ran 48.92 in the 400.
"After the break I think he came out a little too flat," Reid said. "He just never really got started a rhythm in the high jump."
Reid added Clay didn't run to expectations in the 400, but Reid also noted that because of the weather and the long day, nobody really met expectations in the 400.
"Bryan did OK," Reid said. "You can't complain. Obviously we're pleased with where we're at."
That's because Clay had the lead after five events with 4,521 points. Andrei Krauchanka of Belarus was second with 4,433 points.
"I think if he comes out and does what he's capable of I think we'll be really pleased at this point tomorrow night," said Reid about when the decathlon concludes in China.
The beginning of the second day of the decathlon went basically to form. Clay outperformed Krauchanka in the 110 high hurdles and the discus. Clay ran 13.93 seconds in the 110 hurdles and eclipsed his mark of 173-0 at the U.S. Olympic Trials by throwing the discus 176-4 3/4 on Thursday.
So Clay built up the lead that Reid expected. "We should be able to build a substantial lead," said Reid early Thursday morning local time before the second day of the decathlon began. "But we've still got to go through the day."
Reid said he didn't expect Krauchanka to be able to keep up with Clay, then said, "but we'll see. We've just got to come out there and do it."
Reid was right. After seven events, it was actually Oleksly Kasyanov of Ukraine who moved into second with 6,172 points, well behind Clay who had 6,455 points.
Reid's mother, Charlotte Schmidt, who still lives in Carson City, wasn't suprised by Reid's meticulous evaluation of the decathlon.
"Right now he'll be working the numbers," said Schmidt Thursday morning about her son. "He works the numbers, what Bryan needs."
Both Reid and Schmidt were confident because they knew Clay has always been strong in the decathlon on the second day. And Clay was 70 points ahead of the pace he set on the first day in Eugene.
"We know he's one of the better second day guys," Reid said. "We feel really good and optimistic about where we're at right now."
"The second day is always Bryan's better day," Schmidt said. "His strong day is the second day. I'm looking for great results."
"I think he's done marvelous," Schmidt also said about her son. "I think Kevin's done one heckuva job with the training.
"They work really great together. They did a great job. I'm very proud of both of them."
The first day of the decathlon ended late at night and at 11:20 p.m. in China, Clay was still warming down. He still had to get something to eat and the plan was for Clay to be in bed by 12:30.
Then he would have to wake up between 5 and 5:30 a.m. and head back to the track at 7.
"That's just part of it," Reid said. "It's a tight turnaround. It's just another long day with not a lot of time in between."
But by early this morning, around midnight in China, Clay and Reid should be achieving a goal that Reid set early Thursday morning. "Hopefully we'll be up celebrating," Reid said.