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In First Trip Outside The U.S., Clayton Murphy Strikes Gold In Toronto

By Mike Gardner | July 24, 2015, 1:22 a.m. (ET)

Clayton Murphy reacts after he won the men's 800-meter final at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games on July 23, 2015 in Toronto.

TORONTO -- Clayton Murphy had never been outside the United States and was wondering when the money he spent on his new passport would actually get put to use. He found out Thursday night when we won the gold medal in the men’s 800-meter at the CIBC Pan Am Athletics Stadium.

Watch the Pan American Games on the networks of ESPN.

On top of that, he was able to celebrate his achievement with teammate, roommate and bronze medalist Ryan Martin.

“It’s one of a kind, running around with the roommate Ryan,” Murphy said after winning his first Pan American Games medal. “It’s my first time out of the country and you can’t dream of anything better in representing your country than carrying a flag around the track.”

Murphy won the event in 1:47.19, edging out Colombian Rafith Rodriguez in the last 50 meters. Rodriguez had led the entire race with Murphy in second, close on his heels. Having observed the breaks and tendencies in the prelims, Murphy was well prepared when it came to the final stretch.

“I expected his counter, went with him and made sure I had something left for the last 20 meters,” Murphy said. “Accelerate and got the good lean at the end at the line.”

For bronze medalist Martin, he would have loved an American 1-2 in the event, but seeing his 20-year-old teammate win in a major international competition was just as satisfying.

“Kind of reminds me of myself, where I was at his age,” said Martin, 26. “Just give him some tips and pointers. Obviously I think I’m doing a really good job because he beat me today.”

Watch the Pan American Games on the networks of ESPN.

In the women’s 400-meter, Kendall Baisden won the gold medal in 51.27 seconds, but cherished the moment of parading around the track with silver-medal-winning teammate Shakima Wimbley (51.36) more than the victory itself.

“That’s the best part, being able to go up there with both the runners we brought for this event,” Baisden said. “It just shows how much depth and strength we have as a country.”

Wimbley, who charged from third to second in the final 50 meters, embraced the moment just as much.

“I had a long season so for me to be able to come with my teammate and represent our country so well, it felt so great,” Wimbley said. “It’s a dream come true. It’s just something you dream of.

“It’s something that you strive for from the day you start this sport. You watch your idols on TV and you just go, ‘I want that to be me one day.’ Next is I’m trying out for the Olympics so that’s my next goal.”

USA Track & Field cashed in on more medals Thursday night as Kyle Clemons won a bronze medal in the men’s 400-meter race in 44.84, a personal best. Clemons enjoyed the experience of being in the presence of winners and former Olympians who had the same drive as he does on Team USA.

“Just amazing to be in the presence of winners and people who want to win and people who have won,” Clemons said. “Definitely a great experience for me. Not quite the finish I wanted to make, finish I wanted to have, but hey [personal best], can’t be mad with that.”

2008 Olympian Kerron Clement finished fourth in the men’s 400-meter hurdles behind gold medalist Jeffery Gibson of Bahamas. For the field events, 2012 gold medalist Jenn Suhr earned a Pan American Games bronze medal in women’s pole vault, reaching 4.60 meters, while discus thrower Russ Winger returned to his preferred sport, winning a bronze medal in men’s discus throw with a distance of 62.64.

“It definitely a challenge, coming into a meet like this, it’s completely different call-room procedure and definitely have to plan out a little bit about how the day is going to go,” said Winger, who enjoyed returning to discus throw after competing in shot put for the 2011 Pan American Games. “But I had a blast today; competing in Canada.”

Desiree Linden set the pace in the women’s 10,000-meter and finished with a silver medal behind Brenda Flores of Mexico, who ran a Pan American Games record of 32:41.33. For the marathon runner, the 10K was a taxing event in itself, but competing at the Pan American Games was special, especially being able to parade around the stadium after the race.

“It’s one of the greatest experiences in my running career,” Linden said. “I’ve had some respectable runs, but holding the flag up and seeing the fans out here that stayed for a whole 10K and were on their feet yelling the entire time – it was an electric experience that I won’t forget.”

Related Athletes

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Clayton Murphy

Track and Field
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Ryan Martin

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Kendall Baisden

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Shakima Wimbley

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Kyle Clemons

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Kerron Clement

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Jennifer Suhr

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Russ Winger

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Desiree Linden