When the Olympic Games begin on Aug. 8, students from Mesquite Trails Elementary will likely be rooting for one athlete in particular. Bryan Clay, who served as the school's "Principal for a Day" this spring, is considered a favorite to win the decathlon in Beijing.


In fact, principal Dave Stewart believes you can bet on it.


"He's definitely going to win the gold this summer - unless he gets sick," Stewart said.


Stewart's prediction is backed by a special insight: Not only are the two friends, but Stewart, a former top Canadian. decathlete himself, trained with Clay this summer.


"I definitely know what he's capable of," Stewart said. "If he has a poor jump on his first [long] jump I know exactly what he's thinking."


Last month, Clay, 28, easily won the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., scoring a personal best 8832 points in the 10-eventer. The silver medalist at the 2004 Olympics in Athens, Greece, Clay could win by literally hundreds of points.


And if he scored slightly higher marks in the long jump and shot put he could have gotten the world record, Stewart suggested.


"He lost about 150 points there [in the two events]," Stewart said. "He's 300 points ahead of the next best guy in the world. To be 300 points ahead of the world is unheard of. It's a race for second and third."


Raised in Hawaii, Clay is fast, strong and is an exceptionally jumper, especially for someone who is under six-feet tall. With 10.36 100-meter raw speed, he has high jumped 6'10-3/4, long jumped 26' 1-1/2" and put the shot 53' 3-3/4".


In several events, Stewart's personal bests aren't that different than Clay's. Stewart has thrown the discus 158 feet and high jumped 6'9-1/2.


Stewart moves to California


Competing in several sports at Eastern Michigan University, Stewart began traveling to the U.S. Olympic training facility in Chula Vista. There, he hooked up with Kevin Reid, the highly successful track and field coach at Azusa Pacific and several of Reid's athletes. One is Clay, who graduated from APU in 2003.


"That brought me out here," Stewart said. "I'd come out here a couple times a year."


Meanwhile, he and his wife, are "not cold weather people," decided to look into moving to the Golden State.


"My wife got a job, so we decided to pack up and move out here."


Not long after, Stewart was hired by the Hesperia Unified School District.


During Stewart's career, he trained in the U.S. but competed for Canada, where he was born and raised.


"I was fortunate enough to train with the top U.S. coaches and athletes, but did compete at the Canadian Olympic Trials in 2004," Stewart said.


Today, after giving it his all on the track, Stewart spends the bulk of his efforts as a family man and tending to his principal duties. But he still works out and is able to push Clay. After the trials, he joined Clay in a workout ran a series of 200- and 300-meter track repeats.


"I can't hang 100 percent with him," he admitted, however. "Everything you do in the decathlon is cumulative."


Stewart especially enjoys the camaraderie, which is commonplace in the decathlon sphere.


"You're together for two days. You're basically competing for eight hours. It becomes pretty tough if you try to be a loner. Everyone tries to pull each other up. Decathlon is much more a competition against yourself."


Clay's potential


If Clay performs his personal best marks in all 10 events in Beijing, he would score about 9300 points, which is greater than the current world record.


"If he sets the world record he's going to get the gold medal," Stewart said.


However, if he doesn't get the record he'll certainly have another chance.


"It's not like Beijing is his last chance to set the world record."


Clay, however, knows that anything can happen at the Olympics. On the "Loose Canons" radio program on KLAC-AM radio, the decathlete expressed guarded optimism.


"If all goes well, definitely," he said about his chances to win. However, Clay added, "there's always somebody" who could defeat a favored athlete at the Olympic Games.


But his workout buddy Stewart is much more certain of Clay's chances.


"If he competes to his best, he'll probably win the gold by 500 points," Stewart said.