The Olympic and world triple jump champion on switching legs, his respect for the world record distance and racing the 4x400m
Christian Taylor contests the BAUHAUS-galan triple jump in Stockholm on Thursday (June 16) having already won at Diamond League meetings in Doha and Eugene. Truth to tell, the American has rather dominated the event. He is the reigning Olympic champion and the reigning world champion. He has also won 17 Diamond League events and four Diamond Races.
In early 2012, I asked Jonathan Edwards if he thought his 1995 world record was in danger of being broken any time soon. He replied: “If you ask me which of the current jumpers is most likely to break my world record, I would say Christian Taylor.” Four years on, that assessment is closer than ever to coming true with Taylor’s Beijing World Championships leap only eight centimetres short of Edwards’ world record of 18.29m.
Taylor himself is always cautious and respectful when he is asked about world records, reminding the questioner that the record has lasted 20 years.
“I can’t stress enough how much respect I have for the distance,” he has said. “The reason it has stood so long is that it is a phenomenal distance. I can’t speak about that without talking about the respect I have for the man and the distance.”
“I can’t stress enough how much respect I have for the distance”
Last year Taylor spoke of needing “everything in alignment – the perfect wind, the perfect competition and competitors are going after it.”
Taylor likes the idea of London 2017 selling some tickets for £18.29 to reflect the world record mark and has suggested that his family buy some. At the same time he would love to embarrass the organising committee by making 18.29 the former world record!
A brave decision in 2014 saw Taylor switch legs. Having always jumped off his left leg, he switched to the right.
“I was having a lot of pain in my knee but I wasn’t going to let it stop me,” he said. “When I told my coach of my plan, he said it was very unlikely that it could happen. But, I felt that, if you have that push behind you, you are not going to let anything stop you. When your back is against the wall you have to fight it or lie down so I decided to take the challenge.”
“When your back is against the wall you have to fight it or lie down so I decided to take the challenge”
For most of 2014 Taylor was jumping of a shortened run-up, fearful that his “wrong” foot would not be able to cope with the speed generated by his full run-up.
He said that physically, jumping off the other foot was no big deal as jumpers do it in practice all the time. The challenge was getting the timing right and coping with doing it at full speed and finding the courage to commit to it 100%. He describes the process as “being comfortable with being uncomfortable”. As American journalist Larry Eder pointed out in Beijing, he should have two PB listings – 17.96m (left foot) and 18.21m (right foot)!
In 2015 Taylor represented the USA in the 4x400m at the World Relays in Bahamas. Does he have ambitions about repeating that?
“I could dream and say it would be wonderful to do at the World Championships or Olympics even in the qualifying round, but to represent the US on foreign soil ticked off another one on my bucket list and I’m just glad I got the opportunity – even if it was because most other 400m runners had not opened up their season. But it is a memory I will cherish the rest of my career.”
For the moment, he is concentrating on the triple jump.
» athleticsweekly.com-sponsored coverage of the Stockholm Diamond League meeting will be shown live on British Eurosport 2 from 19:00 BST on Thursday, June 16