Salute To Seniors: Michael Taylor - The First Academy

What was your most memorable race/moment?
My most memorable race/moment was at the 1A State Finals this year where I won the state championship in the 110m and the 300m hurdles. All year my goal was to win the state championship in both of these events.
Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
Well, that’s tough to say. Every year I was trying to get better and hopefully one day I would be considered elite. So, I looked up to the elite hurdlers like Artie Burns, Walter Tucker, and all the Florida high school hurdlers I competed against over the years. Everyone in the field on race day was my biggest competitor. 
If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
The one thing I would change about my running career in high school is my attention to details. When you are not dialed in you get sloppy and it gets in the way and prevents you from performing at your best. I have a new perspective on what it means to work hard in the weight room. I just wish I had developed that work ethic earlier in my journey.
What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
I think the most difficult obstacle for me to overcome had to be my self-doubt. Coming into my senior year, I put on some additional muscles for football and it was a challenge carrying those extra pounds over the hurdles. My 110m hurdle time seemed frozen at 14.86s and nothing seemed to be working. More importantly, I didn’t think I had a weight problem. Last year, I was the runner-up and got the silver medal at states in the 110m hurdles (14.56s), but I was 20 pounds lighter. So that was a very frustrating time for me. That all changed when I got a call from Wayne Davis II (the NCAA 110m hurdle champion from Texas A&M), and he told me to lose some weight and the time will come down. I lost two pounds that week and my time dropped to 14.77s. You must be thinking why did Wayne call me?  My Dad and Wayne’s Dad grew up in the same neighborhood in Trinidad and Tobago and still talk.

What will you miss the most?
I will miss my friends, teammates, coaches and my teachers at TFA. I had the most remarkable experience at TFA this year, My confidence grew and coach Ricky taught me the importance of preparation and hard work. I will miss it! 
What advice you would give to younger athletes?

Believe in yourself, listen your coaches and most importantly listen to the people that have been in your corner (life) the longest and truly love and care the most for what is happening in your life. That’s your parents! I couldn’t have done any of this without the support of my mom and dad. They sacrifice so much for me to get where I am today.  Thanks mom and dad. You are the BEST!
What influence has your coach had with respect to your performance and overall life goals?
My coaches have had a huge impact on my performance and preparing me for the next phase of my life. I have had several coaches during my high school track career. It started with coach Willie Pauldo who coached me when I was in middle school and my first two years of high school track at Lake Mary High School. Coach Pauldo always believed in me and thought I had potential to be an elite hurdler. Coach Darnell at (Lake Mary Prep), was very influential during my junior year, he never put restrictions on me and allowed me to explore different events and different approaches towards achieving my goals. My coaches at The First Academy, coach Ricky and my hurdle coach Lala were also very helpful There were time I wanted to give up, but they believed in me and my talent level and they persevered even though we weren’t getting the results we were trying to achieve. The journey was not a smooth ride, but we will take the results in the end.  
What are your college plans?
I will attend North Carolina Central University in Durham, North Carolina. I took a visit to NCCU back in March during spring break and really enjoyed my time there. I really like the Head Track and Field Coach, Mr. Michael Lawson and members of the coaching staff. 
Who would you like to say thank you to?
I really want to say thanks to everyone that touched my life from the beginning. To all my club coaches in Georgia and Florida that coached me over the years. The biggest thank you goes to my parents. My sad was the one that started me in track and field when I was eight years old and it was my dad that started me with the hurdles. He coached me and my brothers in every sport we played and he’s still today my toughest coach. None of this would have been possible without my parents support and my dad led the way. I can’t thank them enough!
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
To all my teammates over the years at Lake Mary High School, Lake Mary Prep and here at The First Academy, thanks for the memories. I learned a great deal from my teammates over the years and I wish them well in the next chapter in their lives. God speed to everyone!

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