Clay quits decathalon worlds after injuring quadriceps muscle
OSAKA, Japan -- Bryan Clay applied ice to his injured quadriceps muscle, got a quick massage and even turned to acupuncture.
Nothing helped ease the pain. So the reigning decathlon champion withdrew from the competition at the world track and field championships. He tweaked his right leg while competing in the high jump, the fourth of five events Friday evening.
"It was just too painful," said Clay, who had 3,558 points. "It was going so well, too."
With five events to go in the decathlon, Jamaican Maurice Smith had the lead with 4,525 points. Dmitriy Karpov of Kazakhstan was next at 4,439, and Czech Olympic champion Roman Sebrle had 4,434.
Clay still can't figure out what exactly happened. He hurt his right quadriceps as he went to plant his foot for his second attempt at 6 feet, 6¾ inches in the high jump. He heard a pop and slumped under the bar, falling onto the mat. He limped off the track and didn't return.
"I think my heel may have slipped," he said. "At least I think that's what happened. I really don't know."
After the injury, Clay tried to get ready for the last event of the first night -- the 400 meters. A massage didn't alleviate the knot, neither did the acupuncture. After running to test the leg, then conferring with doctors, he decided it was best to pull out.
"I wanted to keep going," said Clay, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist. "But it just got tighter and tighter. Maybe I could've run the 400. But I would've run it in 52 seconds, and it would've been pointless."
"I wanted to perform well here, too," he said.
It was almost like a home meet for Clay. His mother is Japanese, and he painted the distinctive red circle of the rising sun on a white background on both shoulders. The Osaka crowd quickly warmed up to him.
"They were cheering for me. That's why this is disappointing," he said. "Anytime you're in the top part of the pack and having a decent day, it's never an easy decision to pull out. I couldn't do anything about it."
U.S. teammate Tom Pappas felt for Clay.
"He was doing well," said Pappas, who's fifth, 183 points out of the lead. "Hopefully, he's all right, and he'll get healthy quick."
Clay had hoped to find a way to get through the first day, but then he thought about the looming hurdles.
"That would've been tough. I would've struggled," he said. "It was better calling it quits."
He might do that with the season, too, a difficult decision less than 12 months from the Beijing Olympics. Clay has had an injury-plagued season, pulling out of the U.S. championships in June with nagging soreness in his left knee.
"We're going to discuss what we want to do," he said. "It's been a tough season. Do I shut it down and heal up or keep going? We'll see."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
ESPN TOP HEADLINES
- Rodgers still not ready to return for Packers
- UNC not applying for Hairston reinstatement
- O's not signing Balfour, cite physical results
- SEC fines schools for cowbells, rushing field
MOST SENT STORIES ON ESPN.COM
WORLD TRACK AND FIELD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Fourteen Olympic medalists are set to lead Team USA at 2007 World Championships in Osaka, Japan (Aug. 25-Sept. 2):FACTS AND FIGURES
• Where: Nagai Stadium
• Participants: 3,200
• Countries/territories: 203
• Events: 24 for men, 23 for women
• Total prize money: $7.194 million
• Winners: $60,000 individuals, $80,000 relays
• World-record bonus: $100,000 NEWS
• Felix earns third gold at worlds with relay victory
• Lagat earns historic double with win in 5,000
• U.S. men, women take relay golds at worlds
• Quad injury forces Clay out of decathalon worlds
• Wariner leads U.S. sweep in 400
• Gay wins second gold, takes 200 title
• Lagat ends American drought in 1,500 meters
• U.S. hurdler Arnold out of worlds with injury
• 100 meters champ Gay goes after 200M gold
• Campbell wins women's 100 in photo finish
• Gay grabs gold in 100-meter final
• Dibaba rallies to take 10,000 meters title
• Kenya's Kibet ends country's marathon gold skid
• Despite the heat, worlds to start on schedule RESULTS
• Sept. 2: World Track and Field Championships
• Sept. 1: World Track and Field Championships
• Aug. 31: World Track and Field Championships
• Aug. 30: World Track and Field Championships
• Aug. 29: World Track and Field Championships
• Aug. 28: World Track and Field Championships
• Aug. 27: World Track and Field Championships
• Aug. 26: World Track and Field Championships
• Aug. 25: World Track and Field Championships PREVIEWS
• Team USA tentative roster
• Powell vs. Gay: Who will be 'The Man in Japan'?
• Women: Felix won't go for worlds double
• The Magazine: Q&A with Powell and Gay
• The Magazine: Lagat runs for love of country