British Teen Phenom Bobby Clay Reveals How She Got Osteoporosis At Age 20

Bobby Clay

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

"I am 20 years old and I have never had a period. I'm 20 years old and I have osteoporosis."

So begins the sobering essay penned last week by British youth phenom Bobby Clay for Athletics Weekly about her very real-life experience with the female athlete triad: disordered eating, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis. 

Clay, who is just three months younger than American contemporary Alexa Efraimson, was a champion school girl runner in England. As a 15-year-old, she made Great Britain's U20 roster for the IAAF World XC Championships. She was fourth in the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships 1500m, one spot behind Efraimson, and made finals at the U20 Worlds in 2014 and 2016.

By age 19, she was a European junior champion, multiple-time national champion, and had lowered her 1500m PB to 4:10.61. To put that time in perspective, zero NCAA athletes ran faster during the 2017 collegiate season.

But behind the success, Clay writes that a culture of disordered eating in her training group impacted her own relationship with food -- though she adamantly declares she has "never had an eating disorder."

"I was constantly around those who unfortunately were in the grasp of a frightful relationship with food and, ultimately, I also began to under-fuel my body. My under-fuelled [sic] body was also being forced into over-training. Like all athletes, I am obsessive. I am obsessed by athletics, with training and with being the best. Looking back now, no amount of training would have ever been enough to satisfy my hunger to do more."

The issues arose after Clay switched training groups and moved up from age group to under-20 competition. Most of her training took place on the track now, not the softer, grass surfaces of her youth.

null


She remained able to hit her workout targets. But her lack of a first period by age 16 alarmed her parents, who took her to doctors for blood testing. Clay, meanwhile, had her own skewed lens of women's health as she writes, "I knew a low body fat meant you wouldn't have periods, therefore I was at a performance advantage in my eyes."

Clay switched coaches again for university in 2015, where her tendency to be overzealous in training was recognized and tempered. The summer of 2016 was her best yet, but the damage was done. That fall, she broke her foot while swimming and a DEXA bone density scan revealed she had osteoporosis.

What now?

Clay has not raced since August of 2016. She has been on hormone replacement treatment for the past five months, during which she had four periods -- including her first, ever.  She will turn 21 in May of 2018.

Many of Clay's contemporaries at the world youth and junior championships just a few years ago have already risen the ranks of the international track circuit. Efraimson has run 4:03.39 and was two spots from making the world team for the United States this year. Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia, the 2014 World Junior champion and 2013 World Youth runner-up for 1500m, has run 3:58 and was the winner at the Birmingham Diamond League this summer. The 2016 World Indoor silver medalist has far surpassed her youth accolades.

But there are others who have regressed.

Tigist Gashaw of Bahrain (formerly Ethiopia) was the 2013 IAAF World Youth champion for 1500m and competed in the prelims at the Rio Olympic Games. This year, she raced just twice with a pedestrian season best of 4:21.

"I didn't write this article for sympathy, or as a scientist, nor to gain anything for myself," Clay writes to end the essay. "I wrote this piece as that 12-year-old girl who has a dream, a girl with an overwhelming passion for running, a girl who doesn't want any other athlete to go through this physical and emotional torture."

Read Bobby's full essay on Athletics Weekly here.

Salwa Eid Naser Avoids Whereabouts Ban Due To Apartment Snafu

naser.png

The whereabouts case brought by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) against 400m world champion Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain has been dropped by the World Athletics Disciplinary Tribunal after a filing failure was backdated and a missed test reversed, allowing the sprinter to avoid three whereabouts failures within a 12-month period.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

Jepchirchir & Kiplimo Take World Half Titles In Fast Races

Jacob Kiplimo

(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

All Eyes On Cheptegei At Saturday's World Half Marathon Championships

Joshua Cheptegei

(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

Three Big Questions Ahead Of The OSU Invitational

Ryan Raff

In a year in which the NCAA indoor, outdoor and cross country championships have been canceled due to COVID-19, it’s safe to say that a mid-October invitational cross country meet has never been more anticipated than Saturday’s OSU Invitational in Stillwater, Oklahoma. 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Which Of The 2020 World Records Is Best?

Joshua Cheptegei, Mondo Duplantis

For a year in which both the world indoor championships and the Olympic Games were postponed, 2020 has seen its fair share of world records. (Of course, one could argue that those events being postponed aided in world record achievement, particularly in the cases of Joshua Cheptegei and Letesenbet Gidey.) A season with so much history has begged a question: which among these world records is the best? 

Unlock this article, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

Michigan Pro Ekiden And Half Marathon Born Out Of Necessity

Sashes.jpg

(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

Joshua Cheptegei Topples Bekele Again With 26:11 10,000m WR

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

For the second time in less than two months, 24-year-old Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei has taken a world record from Kenenisa Bekele. After breaking Bekele’s 5,000m record on August 14 in Monaco in 12:35.37, Cheptegei on Wednesday ran 26:11.00 in Valencia, Spain, to dismantle the 26:17.53 Bekele ran in 2005.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

Letesenbet Gidey Crushes Women's 5,000m WR In 14:06.62

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

22-year-old Letesenbet Gidey smashed fellow Ethiopian Tirunesh Dibaba’s 5,000m world record on Wednesday night in Valencia, Spain, by running 14:06.62. Gidey, running in the NN Valencia World Record Day, took down Dibaba’s 14:11.15 mark which had stood since 2008.

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In

How to Watch: 2020 NN Valencia World Record Day

Screen Shot 2020-10-05 at 1.53.35 PM.png

The 2020 NN Valencia World Record Day starts on Oct 7, 2020 LIVE on FloTrack

Kitata Prevails As Kipchoge Falters, Kosgei Dominates In London

null

Unlock this video, live events, and more with a subscription!

Get Started

Already a subscriber? Log In

(c) 2020 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

Create a free account to unlock this article!

Get Started

Already a subscriber?  Log In