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The Honolulu Advertiser
Updated at 9:32 p.m., Thursday, September 4, 2008

Bryan Clay tells convention his priorities are God, family, track

By Derrick DePledge
Advertiser Government Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Olympic gold medalist Bryan Clay spoke to the Republican National Convention tonight about the importance of family values and working together.

RON EDMONDS | Associated Press

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ST. PAUL, Minn. Hawai'i's Bryan Clay, a gold medalist in the decathlon at the Beijing Olympics, spoke to the Republican National Convention tonight about the importance of family values and working together.

The Castle High School graduate told delegates that while he is proud of his athletic achievement, his proudest accomplishment is being the father of Jacob and Katherine.

"For me, family values and family mean everything," Clay said of he and his wife, Sarah. "My priorities are God first, family second, track third.

"I can tell you that without faith in God and my support of my family and friends, and my strong work ethic, I would not be standing here before you today wearing this gold medal around my neck."

Clay said politicians and athletes have a lot in common because both are competitors who cannot win on their own.

He told the story of his fiercest rival, Roman Sebrle of the Czech Republic, who helped pace him through the 1,500-meter run and then celebrated Clay's victory with him afterward.

"Now the big difference between the decathlon and politics is that when my race ends, I go back home, relax, and start training for the next Olympics," he said. "But when the election ends, that's when the real work begins.

"Now whether your platform is a classroom, a conference room, a track, or the White House, we must all stay true to our principles. Whether you're a decathlete or a politician, we must stand together and believe in each other and this great nation."

Clay's appearance at the convention came out of a conversation with Gov. Linda Lingle at the state Capitol last Friday before the governor proclaimed "Bryan Clay Day," according to Lenny Klompus, the governor's senior adviser for communications.

The governor's office contacted convention organizers to help arrange Clay's appearance.

"He expressed his strong support for Sen. (John) McCain and the governor told him he would be an outstanding speaker," Klompus said.

Reach Derrick DePledge at ddepledge@honoluluadvertiser.com.