NEW MADISON – As his hometown celebrated the Fourth of July on Monday with it’s annual fireworks display, 2013 Tri-Village graduate Clayton Murphy celebrated a U.S. Olympic Trials victory to secure his spot on Team USA at the August summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Hoping for at least a top three finish in Monday’s 800-meter race, Murphy started in 7th position – holding back for most of the race until making his move in the final turn to cross the finish line first with a personal best time of 1:44.76.
“Making the team is an indescribable feeling of joy and accomplishment,” Murphy told The Early Bird. “Achieving this is the ultimate goal of athletics and I am super excited about the opportunity to compete for the U.S. Olympic Team!”
Since winning a state title in the 1600m his senior year at Tri-Village, Murphy’s ‘Road to Rio’ has been filled with numerous accomplishments. In 2015, he won the gold medal in the 800m at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada; he was an 800m silver medalist at the NACAC Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica; and finished as the top American runner in the 800m at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China. This year (2016), Clayton won the NCAA Indoor Track & Field Championship in the 800m and most recently became the 1500m NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Champion before deciding to turn pro under a prestigious Nike sponsorship. Visit Murphy’s bio page at www.gozips.com to see a complete list of his collegiate career achievements and honors.
“He is a determined young man and always has had each race strategy planned out,” said Murphy’s high school cross country and track coach Scott Warren. “Clayton is a unique athlete, always putting the team ahead of himself. Anyone around him should be amazed by his work ethic and all he puts into staying healthy and being a top competitor. I certainly wouldn’t bet against him winning the gold medal!”
Clayton was born Feb. 26, 1995 and is the son of Mark and Melinda Murphy of New Paris. Murphy says he doesn’t plan on returning home prior to the Olympics – as he will continue to train under the University of Akron cross country head coach Lee LeBadie in preparation for the trip to Rio.
“I would like the thank first Coach LaBadie for being there since day one with the confidence and commitment to me in achieving the goals. I also want to thank my parents, my girlfriend Tara and my family for all their support through my ups and downs,” concluded Murphy. “I am super excited to be able to bring some Olympic excitement to New Madison and Darke County. I truly appreciate all the support from the community back home!”
Murphy says the goal in Rio is to first make the finals and then being in a position during the race to finish in the top three (preferably first) and bring home an Olympic medal.
“Clayton’s accomplishments are amazing (some think phenomenal). He always believed in himself and listened to the road map I laid out for him. He strove to make corrections in
every aspect of his training and schoolwork, finding the right balance between the two,” said Coach LaBadie. “He learns from every opportunity how to be better and makes adjustments as needed – studying and refining details. These are all qualities of a true champion and that is why I’m proud to say – He is a Champion!”
The 2016 summer Olympics in Rio will take place a month from now on Aug. 5-21. Murphy will compete in the men’s 800m preliminary round on Aug. 12, the semifinals on the 13th and if he qualifies…go for gold in the finals on Aug. 15. Log onto the official Rio 2016 Olympics website at www.rio2016.com for a complete schedule of events, times and results.
PHOTO CAPTION: Clayton Murphy raises his arms in victory after winning the men’s 800m race Monday at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore. (Taylor Wilder/USATF & U.S. Olympic Team photo)