2-time Olympic medalist Will Claye embarks on music career

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Posted: Jun 25, 2015 2:25 AM
2-time Olympic medalist Will Claye embarks on music career

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Will Claye already has an Olympic silver in the triple jump from the 2012 London Games. A bronze in the long jump, too.

Next on his agenda? Gold, of course. Or maybe even platinum, should his upcoming record really take off.

The 24-year-old from Phoenix is leaping into a new endeavor this summer, making an album that's titled, "In the Wild." Part rap, some rock, it's his take on the world and includes such tracks as "We're Hungry" — a look at child soldiers in Sierra Leone, where he still has family.

Recently, the athlete-turned-rapper belted out some lyrics in singer YG's video "IDGAF" that's been viewed more than 21 million times on YouTube. For his recent success in the studio, though, Claye's still in no hurry to leave for the record business.

He has records of his own to chase in track.

"It's just a hobby of mine," said Claye, who's been bothered by a sore back heading into the U.S. championships and will only compete in the triple jump. "Because I'd rather have a gold medal than a gold record. No question."

Claye had quite a showing at the London Games, when he became the first American since 1904 to earn Olympic medals in both the long and triple jump events. That's good and all, but for the Rio Olympics next summer, he's envisioning a far different color of medal.

Won't be easy, though, given the depth on the U.S. team. The top three qualifiers at nationals earn a spot for the world championships in Beijing in August.

Christian Taylor already has an automatic bye to worlds in the triple jump thanks to his Diamond League title last summer. He also won gold in the triple in London and is Claye's biggest rival. They're good friends, too, going back to their days at the University of Florida.

"It's always good to go up against Christian, because we push each other," Claye said. "But we have a good group of jumpers. Those guys are competition, too. I'm looking forward to jumping against them."

Always in rhythm on the track, he's found his unique beat off the track, too. His album was recorded at a studio in Santa Monica, California, that belongs to Red Bull, which is one of his sponsors.

Be forewarned, though: His record isn't anything like the sound he produced on YG's video. Claye had a starring role in that track. While wearing his two medals from London, he rapped such catchy lines as, "Ill Will chillin'. Ask me what I'm doing I'm trying to make a million."

There was also this ditty: "Could've switched occupations; Jumped on the track just for vacations. Can't do me dog, just face it. Just face it."

The title of his album is quite personal to him. It's derived from his Sierra Leonean middle name, "Bundu," which translates into "Wild."

"A lot of people will be waiting to hear something like that (YG song) and will be surprised, because it won't sound anything like that," said Claye, who also started his own clothing line. "YG, he has his own lane. We're two completely different artists, where we come from and what we do. Our vibes are a bit different and that will show.

"I'm just letting people into my mind."

Here are some of the things to know as the U.S. championships begin Thursday:

All EYES ON: Galen Rupp, who's scheduled to go for his seventh straight national title at 10,000 meters amid allegations that his track coach Alberto Salazar encouraged him and others to skirt anti-doping rules. Rupp rose to fame on this track as a member of the Oregon Ducks.

SPRINT TIME: Tyson Gay and Tori Bowie are favorites in the men's and women's 100 meters, which begins Thursday. Justin Gatlin, who has an automatic bye to worlds in the 100 thanks to his Diamond League title, will simply be a spectator. "I'm a fan of the sport, so I will definitely be in the front row," Gatlin said.

THE HEAT IS ON: The temperature is supposed to be around 93 degrees Thursday and only drop into the mid-80s for the start of the 10,000 meters at 8:15 p.m. local time. Not too bad considering on Friday it's going to be near 100. Because of the heat, officials shuffled around some events, running the men's and women's 5,000 at an earlier time Sunday.

HAIR SHOW: Manteo Mitchell made his hair more aerodynamic for his 400-meter race Thursday, shaving the sides and cutting in a wave because he wants to "flow like water on the track." He calls his look the "Manty-hawk."