Road To London: Christian Taylor

(Photo courtesy of Joe Mizereck)

Christian Taylor never intended on becoming one of the world’s best triple jumpers. 
“I was a big soccer player when I was younger,” said the 22-year-old of Fayetteville, Georgia. “It was such a big part of my life and I started out at an early age. I’d always played on select teams and travel teams, and my dream was actually to play in the World Cup.” 
The duo sprinting-jumping machine – competing in the triple jump, long jump, 400-meter dash and 200-meter dash – established a name for himself after setting state high school records in the long jump, triple jump and 400-meter dash while at Sandy Creek High School.  
“When I got to high school, track really grew on me,” said the son of Barbadian parents. “I always wanted to be the best and compete with the top athletes. When my focus shifted to track, I said that I needed to participate in the World Championships. I told myself I wouldn’t quit until I reached a level where I could compete at the Olympics.”
“I’ve been fortunate enough to do both in two years at such a young age. I wouldn’t say it’s rare, but it’s definitely a privilege.” 
Perhaps competing in the World Cup wasn’t his calling after all. 
Taylor gives most of the credit for his athletic successes to his parents and Eric Bowen, Taylor’s club coach at the QuickSilver Track Club in Atlanta, Georgia. 
“He was a mentor to me, and a transitioning coach,” said the University of Florida athlete. “Eric helped me through all of the different stages: from high school to collegiate to post-collegiate. I always went to him for help.” 
After Taylor’s 7.5-inch margin of victory, which catapulted him from college standout to Olympic contender and sprung Taylor’s name into the record books with the fifth-best triple jump distance in history, the first person the athlete talked to was Bowen. “We still say ‘We did it,’” said Taylor. “He was where we started, where it all began.” 
As the countdown gets closer and closer to Taylor’s competition day, Taylor says that he will sit down and think of where he came from, the sacrifices made by his family so that he could compete and the appreciation he has for the sport. 
“I’m trying to fool myself into thinking it’s just another meet,” said Taylor. “This is the Superbowl for me. This is my World Cup, the pinnacle for the sport. I’m trying not to feed into the hype and stuff.” 
Taylor is one of 17 current and former University of Florida track and field standouts who looked for a chance to don the Red, White and Blue in London. 
“It’s going to be different competing against my fellow teammates, but at the same time, it’s a part of sports,” said Taylor. “As an athlete, you’re two different people. When you’re at school, you’re friends with your teammates. When it’s competition time, it’s strictly business. We’re rivals because we’re all going for the gold.”
“I’m not going to give up my spot for a teammate. I’m there for the gold.” 
After the celebrations that are surely to come once Taylor returns to the United States, one would expect this Olympian to rejoice in the experience by visiting friends and family and celebrating his return from the 2012 London Olympic Games. 
Well, not quite. 
“When I was in Korea, I missed American food so much,” said Taylor. “As soon as I came home, I called Domino’s up. When I get back, I don’t think I’ll even want to go out.”
Said Taylor: “I’ll just get some pizza and call it a night.”