Superman had his cape and Will Claye had his deadlocks.
The Mountain Pointe product started growing them his junior year of high school, the same year he went on to win the Arizona state title in the long jump, and he kept them throughout his college and international career.
Until two weeks ago.
Then Claye had a meeting with let the electric shears.
“I was in the barber shop for like three hours looking in the mirror,” he said on flowtrack.com. “I kept saying this isn’t me.”
The new look didn’t change his status as one of the nation’s top leapers.
The 21-year-old pulled off a rare feat last week when he double qualified for the 2012 London Olympic Games, which begin July 25, in both the long jump and triple jump.
The last U.S. athlete to do it was Walter Davis for the 2004 Games in Athens.
Davis didn’t have dreadlocks either, but there is no word on whether or not his mother had any influence on the decision.
“My mom never wanted me to have dreadlocks and there were a few meets where my hair hit the sand and I felt like I was growing up,” Claye told flowtrack.com last week in Oregon at the Olympic Track and Field Trials. “I got a clean cut (look). I miss my locks and maybe down the road I’ll grow them back.”
Claye finished second in both events at the Trials as he reached 27-feet even in the long on Sunday, June 24 to finish behind Marquise Goodwin (27-4) and then on Saturday Claye jumped 57-7 in the triple jump only to be bested by former Florida teammate Christian Taylor, who landed at 57-10 ¼.
The thing is Claye entered the Trials a little bit rusty as he backed off jumping in practice because of minor injuries. He was training, keeping his legs strong, but rarely did he go through the routine of running down the runway and leaving his feet.
“I haven’t been able to practice and jump for about a month in practice,” Claye told runnerstribe.com. “I jumped at (Prefontaine Classic on June 1), but other than that I’ve been just training. I’m close to 100 percent right now.”
Claye had plans to attend the 2008 Olympic Trails as a junior at Mountain Pointe but broke his wrist about a month before the event.
So he entered the Trials as a first timer and came away as a double qualifier.
He had plenty of motivation.
Claye, who graduated Mountain Pointe early to attend Oklahoma before he transferred to Florida where he was a national champ in the triple and runner-up in the long jump, came into the Trials with a hunger after being unsatisfied with his performance at the World Championships last year in the triple jump.
“I feel like I still have a chip on my shoulder from Worlds last year,” he said. “Third place? I don’t like losing. I want to win. If I don’t have a chip on my shoulder I wouldn’t be pushing myself.
“I want a gold medal, an Olympic gold medal. That would be crazy.”
Contact writer: (480) 898-7915 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JSkodaAFN.