Meet the Clayes: (Will and Queen Claye)

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Claye_Will-Brussels19.jpgWill Claye, Tj/LJ global star, photo by Photorun.net

Claye_QueenQ-USAout19.jpgQueen Claye, photo by Photorun.net

This is a feature that Stuart Weir did on the Clayes this past season. I thought that you might enjoy it. Both have a big following in the sport and have contributed much to the sport.

The Clayes

Will and Queen Claye are an athletics couple. Will has won Olympic medals in both long jump and triple jump. Queen was a semi-finalist as an Olympic hurdler. So, how does it work? Is it an advantage to have a spouse who is also an athlete? "I think it is", said Queen "but he can think he's my coach at times so there's that part! But it is great when you are married to one of the greatest horizontal jumpers ever. What person wouldn't like that kind of feedback? And also just that type of motivation. We get to motivate each other because we know what it takes to be the best in our event. We're also there to comfort each other when we don't have a great session or have an upcoming schedule that's really tough. Having that kind of bond, not just on our spiritual level but at other levels and also the athletic level is amazing".

Will agrees: "To have someone who does the same thing as you and who trains very hard is amazing because they know what you put into it. They know the life style, which is a very different lifestyle, being a professional track and field athlete with the travel, the training schedule and things like that. So, to have someone with you to go through it with you is a huge blessing. It is been amazing for Queen and me".

OK, but does it mean that dinner discussions are dominated by trail legs and run-ups? "No", Will told me, "we actually don't talk much about track at home. She has her coach and I have mine and when we go home that's our safe haven to relax and escape from everything else". They both added that having fun together was the secret of their marriage.

Will has international roots in his family in Sierra Leone and London. He incorporated some Sierra Leone traditions into the wedding. During the London Olympics he spent most of his time living with family, avoiding distractions in the Olympic Village. He explained: "A lot of my family is in London. It is definitely a second home for me and I love it". Queen, too, loves London where she was USA captain at the 2018 inaugural World Cup, a great experience for her: "Man, the World Cup was amazing. I love any time I get to go to London. It's always a great time - besides being able to eat Nandos. The crowd is always amazing. For USA to give me such an honour as naming me captain was pretty cool".

As well as his athletics, Will has a music career, which, as he explained, he devotes a lot of time to: "I take music pretty seriously but there is the time dedicated to that which is different from the track and field. I focus on music when I'm not doing track and field - off season or when we're having a break, and I am able to go in there. It's time consuming. I'm spending hours in there and I try not to do it when I'm competing and training because I want to stay in a routine with that. But during the off-season, I record something every day, up to 10 hours a day. I am in there recording and creating music, trying to make the best songs I possibly can because music is a special thing for people. And it's a connection I am able to have with people all over the world when they hear that music. So, I want to give them the best product that I possibly can".

I had to ask Queen if her husband sang in the shower - but at a different level from the rest of us! "Yes, all the time", she told me. "We have a studio in our house and he's always making music. But I'm still waiting for a song that is just about me".

Ok, but then I wondered if he displayed an artistic temperamental side of his character but Queen assured me it was not a problem adding "no more so than the athlete Will Claye. I think it's just emotional and as an artist, you're free to show your emotions in your music and things like that. So I think it's a really good outlet for Will, to be able to express himself not only when he's long jumping and triple jumping but also in the studio, because there are some things that can't be said in the sand but can be said in song. I really appreciate the way he's able to compartmentalize between being a musician and being an athlete. Neither one interferes and actually I think each one helps the other. It stops you being always one-track minded".

Queen has her own business interests away from track: "I'm not an artist but I'm definitely into the hair care business. I have a hair clinician business and a beauty line. Our house is always busy. There's always something going on. Photo shoots, practice, he is in the studio..."

The US Trials were a bitter-sweet experience for them. Will came second in the long jump (8:06) and second in the Triple Jump (17.70) to earn two slots in Doha. In Doha Will took silver in the Triple Jump with 17.74 but did not contest the long jump. Queen was fifth in the 100m hurdles final in 12:68. Queen tweeted afterwards: "Countless hours of training, lifting, visualizing, praying, sacrificing for 12 seconds. Hurdlers may be a little crazy. I'm GUTTED that 0.07s was the difference between making the World Championship team & not but I'll keep fighting every time I step out there".

Will and Queen are passionate people on the track and off it but also people who have fun together.

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