For most track stars, the Olympics will be the biggest platform on which they ever perform. Kerron Clement has grown comfortable with the stage. He won silver at the 2008 Beijing Games in the 400-meter hurdles and gold in the 4×400 relay at 22.
Despite an injury-riddled, medal-free showing in London, Clement has re-established himself him among the favorites at the 400 hurdles. Tuesday night, he ran the fastest semifinal time and the second-fastest of the entire year, a sit-up-and-take-notice 48.26 seconds. He will be back in an Olympic final Thursday night in the final, which he has a real chance to win.
Millions of people will watch Clement, and some viewers, even those unfamiliar with his Beijing performance, may have a vague feeling they have seen him before. He is not like most track stars, in a rather peculiar way. Clement has appeared in a Beyonce music video.
In 2011, Clement’s friend, a dancer who had been hired, brought him along to the set of the “Run The World (Girls)” video in Los Angeles. Clement was there solely to support to his friend, to just hang out for a while.
Production assistants rounded up every man in the building and lined them up along a wall. Beyonce walked into the room and started pointing at a select number of guys. One of those guys she pointed at was Clement.
“I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ ” Clement said. “She said the guys she pointed at would be in the video. I was a little shocked, because I’m not really a Beyonce fan. I’m more of a Mariah Carey fan. But I was honored to be in the video. It was a lot fun.”
Clement received only about six seconds of screen time. He makes his appearance 1 minute, 43 seconds into the video. He is standing still while Beyonce dances seductively between him and another man, presumably one of those other guys she pointed to on the wall. Clement is wearing some kind of post-apocalyptic leather get-up and goggles on his forehead.
Beyonce dances near the other guy for a bit while Clement shoots a lip-curling sneer at Beyonce behind her back. Beyonce turns her attention to Clement, smacks him in the left side of his face and turns his head. And, scene.
“My role was just stand there and be pretty,” Clement said. “I was a prop to her.”
The YouTube video has been watched more than 323 million times.
Clement has no idea if Beyonce remembers him or knows what he had already accomplished before the video. He hopes Beyonce watches him race and realizes she had an Olympian in her video. But when the race comes Thursday night, Clement will not be thinking about Beyonce. Before he races, he has a set playlist.
“I listen to my gospel music,” Clement said. “And Mariah Carey.”