Olympic trials, All-America nod among junior’s accolades
Olympic trials, Second Team All-America status and a gold medal are just a few of the things on junior sprinter Clayton Gravesande’s resume.
Gravesande, who is a captain on the track and field team, competed for the United States in the 2011 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships, running the 4×400 meter relay.
His relay team accomplished the games’ ultimate goal, winning a gold medal for his country.
“It was something that I dreamed of, running for Team USA and getting a gold medal. It was something I thought about in high school, and for it to happen the first year of college, it was a big deal to me,” Gravesande said. “I couldn’t wait to go home and show my family the medal.”
Gravesande said he was met with cheers and screams from his family when he called to tell them about the medal and that competing for Team USA was an experience that he won’t soon forget.
“It was a different venue with the crowd,” Gravesande said. “[I remember] just how fun it was and how laid back it was. It wasn’t a lot of stress, and it was a fun experience.”
Along with his experience racing in the Pan American games, Gravesande is a two-time All-American and was named to the All-America team his first year running for the track team.
“It was an honor. It was an extremely big deal because it was my first year running with the Gamecocks,” Gravesande said. “To be named All-American my first year was pretty good.”
He attributes his success on the track to his work ethic.
As a sprinter, he is constantly working to get better with hopes of competing at the SEC Championships.
“You definitely have to put in a lot of work to get a good result. What I try to do before I come to every track meet, I like to know that I am mentally prepared and physically prepared,” Gravesande said. “When I go out to practice, I give it 100 percent, that way I know for the meet that I gave 100 percent in practice and I have nothing to fear. All I have to do is have fun and run fast.”
Coach Curtis Frye has high expectations for Gravesande’s leadership as a captain.
“We expect him to create an atmosphere where the young and the old mix. Clayton knows what happens when someone doesn’t have a relationship with the team and what it’s like for the team,” Frye said. “I see him organizing get-togethers and just start more activities where guys get together.”
Gravesande is a standout sprinter. He currently holds the fourth-best time in South Carolina history, running the 400 meters in 45.93 seconds. To him, that is one of the pinnacles of his career as a Gamecock.
Frye said that intangible factors help Gravesande stand out from the sprinters he runs against.
“He has a great endurance factor; he can handle heavy loads,” Frye said. “Lots of good sprinters can only do it one time or just in one area. They are either fast or strong, or they have a good race strategy. Clayton has good speed and good endurance.”
As Gravesande is currently recovering from a torn tendon, he is working on getting better by seeing a chiropractor, running and doing individual workouts. He is ahead of schedule with his rehab and hopes to come back stronger than ever.
“[I want] to see how far I could go, professional or to the Olympics. My sophomore year, I went to the Olympic trials,” Gravesande said. “I want to run 2016 in Rio or run professionally, so that is something that motivates me to run faster.”