Christian Taylor, the future of the Triple Jump?
This past weekend Christian Taylor competed in his first Diamond League competition at the Aviva London Grand Prix. Taylor, the four-time NCAA Triple Jump Champ and former athlete of the University of Florida, won the event with a jump of 17.68 meters (see video). The jump marked a new legal personal best for Taylor and currently ranks tied as #3 in the world. The mark also moved Taylor to #7 on the all-time US list, only three centimeters behind two-time World Champion Walter Davis. He also moved just outside of the top-25 on the all-time World list (#27). See the University of Florida interview bio on Christian Taylor for me info on the athlete.
It's been exciting to watch Christian's progress and success through our cover on Flotrack over the past three plus years. In 2008 we were on hand for the National Scholastic Indoor Championships (NSIC) at the Armory in NYC where Taylor earned a triple crown of titles with victories in the Long Jump (25'6.75", video), triple jump (51'3", video) and the 400 meters (47.42, race video). The summer before his NYC performance he won the World Youth Championship title in the triple jump and finished third in the long jump. The following year at the World Junior Championships Taylor only managed to finish eighth and seventh in the triple jump and long jump, respectively.
2008 interview with Christian Taylor talking Olympics & putting field events on the map.
His World Junior results were no indication of what was to come. During his freshman year at the University of Florida, Christian Taylor battled future teammate Will Claye (Claye was at University of Oklahoma) for one of the best competitions of the 2009 NCAA Indoor Championships to win his first NCAA triple jump title. Soon after Taylor showed his versatility as a track and field athlete by running at PR in the 400 meters in 45.34 at the 2009 Florida Relays, an exciting battle that also included Calvin Smith and Jamaal Torrance (race video). He followed up the performance by anchoring the Gators to a 3:02 victory in the 4x400 meter relay and held off Olympic Champ Angelo Taylor in the process.
Final lap of 4x400 at 2009 Florida Relays, Taylor vs. Taylor.
As a sophomore at Florida, Christian Taylor doubled up on NCAA titles when he won both the Indoor and Outdoor titles. In 2011 Taylor lost his first indoor title to teammate Clay, but came back outdoor to win the most exciting triple jump competition in NCAA history. Clay and Taylor went back and forth with some of the best jumps in the world. Taylor ended the series with the top all-time, all-conditions collegiate mark in the triple jump with a mark of 17.80 meters (58'4.75"). He also ended with a new legal PR of 17.40 meters while Claye finished second with marks of 17.62w and a legal 17.35. Taylor's performances during the 2011 seasons have set him as a finalist for this year's Bowerman Award, the top honor in collegiate track and field.
There are a lot of stats and figures here but all in all what it means is that Christian Taylor is very good and on a roll! He has also decide to pass on his final year at the University of Florida as he has signed with Li-Ning, the Chinese based athletics company that has signed some of the biggest international superstars in track and field. Taylor joins the company of stars such as Asafa Powell, Yelena Isinbayeva and Andreas Thorkildsen. On top of that, his teammate Claye has signed with Nike. We could be seeing the making of one of the best jumping rivalries since the jump off between Carl Lewis and Mike Powell. This just may be one of the things that could save the triple jump and raise the interest (see this past interview on the state of the jumps). Could you imagine if we saw more field competitions like this...