Olympic triple jumper and rapper Will Claye explains why his music career is more than a hobby


“Looks like the person is floating – there’s cadence and rhythm,” Claye told CNN Sport.

“I feel like the triple jump is one of the most artistic events… it kind of sinks.”

It’s an appropriate word choice for someone who divides their time between athletics tracks and music tracks. Double Olympic silver medalist in the triple jump, Claye, 29, is also a recording artist who started his own label, Desert Water Records.

In addition to his athletic aspirations – which, right now, involve preparing for the Tokyo Olympics – Claye also dreams of playing his music around the world. His love for making songs runs deep, going back, he thinks, to before he fell in love with track and field.

“Music is my language of love, you know?” he says. “That’s why I can’t really help but create it. I literally get chills when I do certain songs… it’s something I want to share with the world. I want to be one of the most. great artists of all time. “

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Claye, who also has his own fashion label, was featured in YG’s “IDGAF” in 2013 – the video for which has racked up nearly 70 million views on YouTube and features the triple jumper wearing his Olympic medals.

In terms of artists he hopes to emulate, Claye lists Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Nipsey Hussle, and Dr. Dre.

“I want to be at that type of level, musically,” he says. “And I think because I’m an athlete people forget about that.

“They think I do it just because I can as a hobby. But it’s not really a hobby for me. It’s something that really comes from my soul.”

Last year, after the postponement of Tokyo 2020, Claye combined his love for music and athletics in “Dreams Don’t Die” – a song that reflects how athletes have been forced to put their Olympic dreams to work. back burner.

It includes lines such as “four years in a row, I have my eye on the prize”, “this is a lesson in managing fathers time” and the refrain “dreams don’t die, they multiply”; the accompanying music video is a montage of Claye and other athletes training and competing.

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“It was really how I felt, and it was something I knew all Olympians felt,” he said.

“This dream that we have – to be an Olympian, to be an Olympic medalist, to represent our countries, to go out and put it all on the playing field – is something we dream of. We dream of those moments.

“It almost seemed like the dream was just being denied… but for it to be postponed – you know, you have to keep that energy.”

And keeping his energy up is exactly what Claye did.

“This will be the first Olympics I’ve had five years to prepare for,” he said, adding that he thinks it’s “one of the best Olympic preparations I’ve ever had.”

Tokyo 2020 kicks off on July 23 and Claye is hoping to win her first gold after finishing twice second in the triple jump behind compatriot Christian Taylor.

He also won a bronze medal in the long jump in 2012, when he became the first man since 1936 – and the first American since 1904 – to win Olympic medals in the long jump and triple jump.

Claye competes in the men's triple jump final at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships.
Behind Taylor and world record holder Jonathan Edwards, Claye’s personal best of 18 meters and 14 centimeters is fourth on the all-time triple jump list.

After ruling out the prospect of a good indoor season amid coronavirus restrictions, he is now focusing on competing at competitions in Southern California in April before preparations for the Olympic trials begin in June.

Beyond that, he hopes to be able to travel abroad for competitions before Tokyo.

The Olympics are an event dear to Claye, not only because of his medal success, but also because he proposed to his wife, Olympic Queen Harrison-Claye, in Rio 2016. The couple held an engagement ceremony in Sierra Leone, where Claye’s parents are from, before getting married in California in October 2018.

“Honestly, the feeling I was suggesting was a better feeling than being on the podium,” he says. “It is something that will forever be remembered in my life and that of my wife.”

Claye proposes to Queen Harrison after winning silver at the 2016 Olympics.
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This year’s Olympics will likely be a more low-key affair for Claye than when he was surrounded by masses of spectators during his proposal in Rio.

Organizers say the possibility for overseas fans to attend this year’s Games will become clear by the end of March – a move likely to affect athletes on the pitch more severely than other Olympians.

Jumpers can spend over an hour and a half on the track during competitions, relying on the energy of the crowd to fuel their performance. But Claye is not impressed by the prospect of the Games with few fans.

“As an artist, I wish the crowd were there,” he said, “but I don’t really think that dictates my performance. I had big jumps when there was no one in the room. Stadium.

“I know people will watch from the comfort of their homes, so I’m going to put on a show for them.”

In Tokyo, Claye was able to achieve the rare feat of winning medals at three separate Olympic Games; this time, however, he hopes to find gold.

“That’s the goal … that’s what we train for,” he said. “If this kid from Phoenix, Arizona was able to do that, I think it would be a pretty cool thing for the world to see.”

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