World and Olympic medallist Will Claye is one of the planet’s finest horizontal jumpers. The gifted 23-year-old American shares his words of wisdom.
1. Disregard the boundaries
“If you look at how far human beings have come and how much better we’ve gotten there is no reason to put boundaries on what we can achieve.
“Nobody thought Bob Beamon [former world long jump record holder and 1968 Olympic champion] could jump anywhere near 8.90m – such a figure was unheard of. But he did that jump because he put no boundaries on himself.
“I don’t set boundaries because I know there are situations I have made it through when I wasn’t supposed to. Like when I had two stress fractures in my lower back and many thought I wouldn’t be able to jump again, yet a year later I won a national championships.
“This goes to show anything is possible as long as you work hard on the task in hand. I just feel like I can do anything. I don’t have an agent and I have been negotiating my own meets. For many, it is unheard of that athletes negotiate their own meets, but I am happy doing that and it is something I’ll continue to pursue.”
At London 2012 Claye picked up Olympic silver medals in both the long and triple jump. He has since won world champs bronze and world indoor silver, both in triple jump.
2. Trust your coach
“Your coach is your outside eye and your guidance. To be able to accomplish your goals, you have to fully trust who is guiding you. You need to be fully committed, so that if he yells at you to run through a brick wall, you are willing to run through that brick wall as hard as you can.
“In the past I have had a coach I did not fully trust and it definitely affected me as I wasn’t prepared to fully commit.”
Few people can pull off the backwards baseball cap. Will Claye is one of the lucky ones.
3. Be 100% focused
“If you put 100 per cent of your focus into anything, you can succeed – whether that is in track or any facet of life. I have personally decided to put 100 per cent of my efforts into track. I also design clothes and have an interest in music but my main focus is in track and field. If I put 150 per cent of my focus into making clothes, my track career would suffer.
“I would say it wasn’t until college that I first decided to focus 100 per cent on track as during high school I was split by interests in many things. Once I got to college I realised I couldn’t take my track talent for granted and that is when I started to put 100 per cent focus into it.
“In 2013 my focus slightly slipped. It was post-Olympic year. I was trying to maximise all I could out of the sport, but that took some of my focus away. That season was a reminder I had to put my focus 100 per cent back into track.”