ARKON – Clayton Murphy is back in the United States and attending classes at the University of Akron after competing at the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships in Beijing.
Murphy, a Tri-Village alumnus, represented the United States in the 800 meters at the world championships at the Beijing National Stadium, which was used in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and often is referred to as the Bird’s Nest.
“It was a great experience,” Murphy said. “Running in front of 60,000 fans was pretty sweet. Something I’ll never forget for sure.”
He finished third in his heat race on Aug. 22 with a time of 1:48.08 to qualify for the semifinals. He then finished sixth in his semifinal race on Aug. 23 with a time of 1:46.28, which was 12th fastest in the world, to end his track and field season.
“I walked away disappointed my season was over, but I was happy with how I ran,” Murphy said.
Murphy achieved his big goal of reaching the semifinals at the world championships. He was happy to record one of the 12 fastest times in the world, which also was the fastest of the three runners representing the United States in Beijing.
“It’s pretty crazy to think about,” he said.
Murphy initially wasn’t slated to compete at the world championships. He finished fourth at the USA Track and Field Championships, which made him the first alternate for the world championships.
After representing the United States at the Pan American Games in Toronto and the North American, Central American and Caribbean Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica, he thought he season was finished.
But then just two weeks before the world championships, Murphy got a call that he was selected to replace Nick Symmonds on Team USA. Symmonds, the national champion in the 800 meters, and USA Track and Field had a dispute about sponsorships that led to him being left off the American squad for the world championships.
With that decision Murphy was thrust into one of track and field’s biggest stories of the year and resumed his season at the world championships.
“It’s kind of unfortunate the whole thing with Nick,” Murphy said. “It was cool to have his support through the whole thing, and I hope everything works out with him.”
Murphy was grateful for the opportunity to run at the world championships and to get to explore China. He went on sightseeing trips to places such as the Great Wall of China during his time overseas.
“It was cool,” he said. “It sure was a cultural awakening.”
Now Murphy is back on American soil and just started classes at Akron this week. He’s about a week away from beginning his training regimen for his junior season of cross country at Akron.
The Tri-Village graduate has about eight weeks before the Mid-American Conference cross country championships. His goal is to be at full strength for the MAC championships and then the NCAA regionals a couple weeks later.
“I have time to get adjusted, get distance back up,” Murphy said.
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports. For more features online go to advocate360.org or ‘like The Daily Advocate’ on Facebook by searching Advocate360.