Will Claye needs competition.
No, that is just not a statement, it is, curious reader, a fact.
It was not until Will Claye, only the second man EVER to win Olympic medals in the long jump and triple jump, felt challenged, that he put it together. Will Claye won the TJ gold in the US OT on the very last jump. No more excuses. Jump or be second.
So Will Claye was challenged, and he puts it out 17.21m. His farthest since Achilles surgery in 2020.
And now, Will wants that Olympic gold medal in Tokyo.
This piece was written by Bryan Sutton. Bryan is part of the writing team assembled by Professor Lori Shontz at the University of Oregon under SOJC. They are doing these pieces for RunBlogRun as some of Lori’s former team did in 2016.
All pieces by SOJC edited by Lori Shontz and Larry Eder
Will Claye delivers, on his last jump, taking TJ gold!
By Bryan Sutton
SOJC Track Bureau for RunBlogRun
Two-time Olympic silver medalist Will Claye was sitting in second place Monday at the Olympic Trials until he jumped a season-best 17.21 meters (56 feet, 5 Â¾ inches) to win the men’s triple jump on his final jump of the day. Finishing second was two-time national champion Donald Scott, and capturing third on his final jump of the day was 2016 Olympian Chris Benard.
Notably absent from the 2021 Olympic trials was two-time defending Olympic champion Christian Taylor. Taylor’s 2021 season came to an end after he suffered a ruptured Achilles earlier this year.
Claye came into 2021 having not competed since the 2019 world championships, where he finished second. In November 2019, he suffered an Achilles tear while playing basketball that kept him out of competition for all of 2020. Claye returned to competition in May at the USATF Golden Games, where he won with a jump of 17.15 meters.
“My sights are always on the gold medal,” Claye said. “I want to win whether Christian is there or not. I feel for Christian and what he is going through. A year ago, I was going through the same exact thing. For what I’ve been through this past year and all the work I’ve put in, I just thought about that and that’s what gave me the will to just put one out there on my last jump.”
Scott, the 2018 and 2019 national champion, made his first Olympic team. Scott previously represented the United States internationally at the 2019 world championships, where he placed sixth.
Scott’s fourth jump of the day at 17.18 meters was a season-best.
“My main goal was to place top three,” Scott said. “I would have liked to have won it, but I got the job done when I made the team.. “I’ve made world teams, but this is my first Olympic team. This is what I’ve been working forever since I started. So this is my biggest accomplishment for sure.”
Benard made his second Olympic team after finishing eighth at the 2016 Rio Olympics. He also finished sixth at the 2017 world championships.
Benard secured third place with a mark of 17.01 meters on his final jump. This would be the theme of the day as six out of the top eight all recorded the best jumps on their sixth and final jump.
“It was rough,” Benard said. “I would say until the fifth round, it was kind of seeming like I might not make the team. I was one of only three with the standard, but I knew I had to compete well to get in because Chris Carter was in the top 32 and he was ahead of me. In the fifth round to pull out a decent jump and get my energy back up was good. The sixth round to jump over 17 meters and solidify me on the team was very … I’ll say liberating.”