When you show pigs, you have to be ready to put in a lot of hard work. And you have to be prepared to do it every day. There are so many details to manage and so few breaks when you’re trying to raise a champion.
That’s true when you’re training to be a champion, too. Just ask Clayton Murphy. He’s done both, and he has the awards to prove it.
The 22-year-old world-class middle distance runner grew up raising show animals on the family farm in New Paris. He was extremely good at it, says his dad, Mark, a Madison County agronomist.
“Clayton loved to show pigs. There wasn’t a better showman. He focused on all the details, absorbed all the information and worked exceptionally hard,” Mark Murphy explains. Doing the same tasks day after day didn’t bother Clayton either.
That work ethic, motivation and attention to detail translated to success on the track. As a runner at Tri-Village High School in New Madison, he was the small school state champion in the 1,600 meters. At the University of Akron, he won the 1,500-meter race at the NCAA Championship.
Next, the Ohioan took his cleats and prepared for international competition. In 2015, he was named to the American team for the Pan American Games. He won the gold medal in the 800-meter race, the first American to win that title in more than 15 years.
Determination, focus, preparation and attention to detail are paramount in racing, just as they are in showing animals, Mark Murphy says. You have to be willing to put it all on the line and make adjustments when needed.
“Often, the difference between first and second in showing pigs is something very, very small, like one extra look from the judge. In a track meet, the difference can come down to hundredths or thousandths of a second,” he explains. In fact, in the Pan Am race, Clayton beat the Colombian runner-up by four- hundredths of a second.
With the Pan Am experience under his belt and the Olympics in Rio only a year away, the opportunity to run on the world’s biggest stage was in Clayton’s sights.
At the Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon, Clayton won the 800-meter race, setting a personal record of 1:44.76 in the process. Now it was time to pack his bags for Rio de Janeiro. And with proud Ohioans and the world watching, Clayton took home the Olympic bronze medal, running a new personal record of 1:42.93.
It was the culmination of a dream for a farm boy who grew up showing pigs and taking to the track, almost always running circles around the competition. Now a professional track athlete sponsored by Nike, Clayton’s commitment to hard work, which began on the farm, continues to fuel his success.