NEW MADISON — Is Mother Nature a track and field fan?
That point could be argued, as cloudy, rainy, dismal conditions finally gave way to beams of sunlight Friday evening just as 2013 Tri-Village graduate and Olympic bronze medalist Clayton Murphy returned home to a celebratory parade in his honor held.
Murphy, 21, won his bronze medal by finishing third in the 800-meter race at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic games this past August. In the race, he clocked a personal-best time of 1:42.93 — the third-fastest time in American history.
Though he is Darke County’s first Olympic medalist, his accomplishment brought pride not only to the county, but to Ohio, as well as the entire nation.
New Madison residents, as well as fans from all over region, gathered to wave flags and cheer as Murphy rolled down Main Street, heading to ceremonies conducted at Tri-Village High School’s newly constructed football stadium.
Prior to the Tri-Village Patriots’ game versus Gamble Montessori, Murphy was presented with proclamations and gifts from various area organizations and government entities.
New Madison Mayor Lisa Garland presented Murphy with a proclamation from the village, lauding his accomplishments, not only as an Olympian, but from his time as a runner for Tri-Village and the University of Akron.
Murphy also received a proclamation from the Darke County Board of Commissioners, a plaque from Second National Bank President John Swallow, and a banner from New Madison Kiwanis President Sharon Lapp.
Murphy was also inducted into the Tri-Village Athletic Hall of Fame, receiving a plaque from committee members.
Perhaps the most heartfelt tribute of the night came from Tri-Village Superintendent Josh Sagester and Tri-Village Athletic Director Brad Gray, who announced that the track surrounding the football field will henceforth be known as “Clayton Murphy Track.” As well, the school’s spring track and field invitational will be named in his honor.
Murphy said he felt “chills” by his home town’s reception. He also passed on advice to younger athletes, telling them to “find their passion.”
“I found running as my passion in high school and I ran with it, and now I’m competing on the biggest stage ever, so you never know where you are going to end up,” he said.
Following the festivities on the field, Murphy posed for photos, shook hands, and signed autographs for hundreds of fans in attendance.