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Olympic decathlon champion Bryan Clay misses out on Olympic team spot

Clay disqualified after stumbling at US Olympic trials, but new star Ashton Eaton breaks world record.
Ashton Eaton 6 24 2012Enlarge
Ashton Eaton (L) celebrates with Trey Hardee after breaking the world record in the men's decathlon during Day Two of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Track & Field Team Trials at Hayward Field on June 23, 2012 in Eugene, Oregon. (Andy Lyons/AFP/Getty Images)

Reigning Olympic decathlon champion Bryan Clay has failed in his bid for back-to-back gold medals in London, disqualified Saturday from the 110 meters hurdles after a stumble at the US Olympic trials.

Meanwhile, rising track superstar Ashton Eaton, 24, broke the world record in the event and booked his ticket to the Olympics with 9,039 points, ESPN reported.

Defending world champion, Trey Hardee, 28, finished second with 8,383 points, also earning a spot on the Olympic team.

"It's like living an entire lifetime in two days," ABC News quoted Eaton as saying. 

"It doesn't mean that much to the rest of the world, but to me, it's my whole world. To do the best that I possibly could in my world makes me pretty happy."

According to Agence France-Presse, 32-year-old Clay planted his left foot into the crossbar of the penultimate hurdle and fell forward, pushing down the last hurdle and finally crossing the finish line in 16.81 seconds, last in his heat.

After originally having credited Clay for 644 points, officials announced that he had been disqualified for not clearing the last hurdle.

Although his points for the event were reinstated under appeal, Clay struggled later in the discus and finished out of contention for an Olympic berth.

According to the Associated Press, USA Track and Field rules admit only those who have the Olympic "A" standard of 8,200 points — and finish in the top-three in an event — to the Olympic team.

Although he was considered a strong medal contender, Clay did not meet the standard. Nor did any other US decathlete, meaning the US will leave one spot empty.

"Ultimately, what we come back to is that the fairest way to select the team is to have the athletes select themselves," USATF spokeswoman Jill Geer reportedly said.

"US talent is so deep in most events that for someone to pick even one spot on the team would be unfair to most athletes."

Clay, meantime, described his disqualification as "the worst feeling ever," according to ESPN.

He continued: "There's just no way to explain to people. You train every single day, six, seven days a week, six, seven hours a day. I don't even go into the hot tub with my kids during the week because I can't have my legs be flat for a workout the next day.

"I can't wrestle with my kids the way they maybe want me to because I'm afraid I might hurt something. Everything, everything you do gets put into this, and then to have it slip through your fingers ..."

In Beijing in 2008, Clay — who won silver in the decathlon at the 2004 Athens Games — scored the biggest winning margin in the event since 1972 — 240 points.

Only the top three from the meet advance to the London Olympics, Clay was left to sit on the edge of the track and bang the back of his head into a small metal fence in frustration after his heat.

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