Vestavia Hills' Hardee Wins Silver Medal
In Decathlon Event At Olympic Games
Trey Hardee may not be the world’s greatest athlete but, after winning a Silver Medal Thursday in the Olympic decathlon, he is certainly No. 2.
Hardee, a 2002 graduate of Vestavia Hills High School, totaled 8,671 points to finish a close second to fellow American Ashton Eaton as the USA took the Gold and Silver at the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Hardee, who finished sixth in the 2002 AHSAA state decathlon championships, was competing in his second Olympics. At Beijing in 2008 he was fourth in the point total when he fouled out in the pole vault event and likely cost him a chance to medal.
Things were much different at London’s Olympics. This time he cleared 15 feet, 9 inches in the pole vault to finish eighth in that event. He also won the 110-meter hurdles in 13.54 seconds, finished second in the 100-meter dash (10.42) behind Eaton, second in the high jump (6-6 ½) , second in the discus (158-4) and second in the javelin (218-8). He also won his heat in the 400 and finished third overall with a 48.11 time.
In his other three events, he was fifth in the long jump (24-8 ½) and shot put (50-1 5/8) and 11th in the 1500 meters (4:40.94).
"As the days and weeks and months and years pass, I think Ashton and I will look back on this and realize how special it really is and what this really meant," Hardee told Birmingham News correspondent Ed Kaljman.
He said a trip to Germany several weeks ago to take part in a celebration of 100 years of Olympic decathlons was a motivation. All the living medalists attended. “I left there with a new-found resolve and a new-found kind of kick in the butt on what this really means. This is the Olympic Games and representing the United States here is so much bigger than you realize.
"We got 1-2 and it's something that Ashton and I, when we're 80 and 90 years old, our grandkids are going to puff out their chests a little bit."
Former Vestavia Hills track coach Randy Faust said a chance to coach an athlete like Hardee is rare. “He is a one-in-a-lifetime athlete, a great role model.”
Faust said Hardee came to him after his freshman year at Vestavia wanting to compete in the pole vault. “He was maybe 6 feet tall and 160 pounds,” Faust said. “He really didn’t start growing and maturing physically until after high school. His sister Eden was already running for us.”
Hardee vaulted to a fifth-place finish in the AHSAA outdoor state track championships as a sophomore. He improved on his 13-foot leap as a junior by clearing 14 feet to finish fourth in 2001.
As a senior he finished second with a 14-6 leap as winner Thomas Fowlkes of McGill-Toolen set a state record 16-1 ¾. Hardee also qualified first in the 100-meter hurdles prelims and qualified for the 100-meter dash finals at the 2002 state meet, but injuries kept him from competing in the event finals.
Hardee finished sixth in the AHSAA’s 2002 state decathlon behind winner Patrick Claybon of Mountain Brook. Claybon is now the sports anchor at WIAT-TV CBS 42 in Birmingham.
“Did you see Trey’s jump in the pole vault event Thursday night,” said Faust. “He cleared the bar by at least 18 inches. It might have been 17 feet.” Hardee’s final successful jump was officially only 15-9, however, because that’s where the bar was set.
Faust said Hardee’s rise to glory has come from his dedication and tenacious work ethic.
“I think the fact that he overcame Tommy John surgery in such a short time is a miracle in itself,” Faust said. “My son Adam went through the same surgery when he played baseball at Auburn. It normally takes 18 months to get over, and Trey did it in 11 months.”
Faust said he hopes Hardee will continue competing. “Look at him. He’s 6-5 and 215 pounds. He’s in great shape. I think he can come back in 2016 and still be capable of winning the Gold.”
Out of high school Hardee signed a track scholarship with Mississippi State. He later transferred to the University of Texas where he won the 2005 NCAA decathlon championship and was third in the NCAA heptathlon. In 2006 he set the NCAA decathlon record with a then-personal best 8,465 points and was named the 2006 NCAA Division I Men's Indoor Field Athlete of the Year.
He was the runner-up at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials. At the World Athletics Championships in Berlin in 2009 he won the gold with a personal record 8,790 points. He also was the USA Outdoor champion in 2009 when he was awarded the Jim Thorpe All-Around Award by the United State Sports Academy.
Hardee won the silver medal in the heptathlon at the 2010 IAAF World Indoor championships and won the gold at the 2011 World Championship of Athletics – where he defeated Eaton. He was second in the 2012 Olympic Trials, setting the stage for his Silver medal in the Olympics this week.
“Trey has a tremendous amount of ability. In high school he went from being very average to being pretty good real quick,” Faust added. “What excites me about him, is that he is not a guy who is about himself. He is all business, and you can tell he is focused on what he is doing.”