Life

2012 Olympic Triple Jump Gold Medalist Christian Taylor Shares his Road to Rio

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Memories of the podium fuel his future

Last time we had a chance to catch up with Christian Taylor, a former track star at the University of Florida and the reigning 2012 Olympic Gold Medalist in the triple jump for the USA, he was in Gainesville for the summer enjoying some time off and reflecting on his journey from college athletics to the world stage. He was coming off of one of the greatest achievements a triple jump athlete or any athlete can experience; standing on a podium with a gold medal draping from your neck while the “Star Spangled Banner” plays as the soundtrack to your dedication. Elites in other fields rarely get proof. They’re judged by claims and reputations, but not Christian Taylor triple jump Olympian. For him, proving he’s still the best in the world is a big deal.

We talked to Christian Taylor as he continued his training in Bradenton, Florida for the upcoming Olympic Trials, which will be held in Eugene, Oregon from July 1-10.

Christian Taylor doesn’t speak much Dutch. Luckily, he doesn’t have to. Most of the people in his new home of the Netherlands speak English, which has made the move an easy transition. When we last spoke, the 25-year-old was living across the pond in London, England, but since then he’s followed his coach to Holland to work with the Dutch Federation. The Dutch athletes were intrigued by the success Christian and others on the U.S. track team have had, so they’ve been eager to learn from the various gold-medal winning training methods and techniques.

“I really enjoy it [Holland]. The people have been open and warm and they want to learn a lot from what we’re doing, you know, peek behind the scenes,” he said. “One of the nicest things is that I can drive again. In England, they drove on the other side of the road, and here they use the ‘normal’ side, so it gives me the chance to branch out and go more places.”

It’s not just track stars that train in Papendal. Christian Taylor watches athletes prep for Rio in boxing, handball, judo, and even though the Winter Olympics are two years away, speed skating. Though he is in the mix with different athletes and sports, his training focus is completely singular. To Christian Taylor triple jump is his life. He says, its been a hard road back to excellence since the 2012 Summer Games. Because of an injury, Christian has had to completely retrain himself to triple jump from his weak leg, which is now his strong leg. The 2013 track season, one in which he placed 4th at the World Championships as reigning triple jump champ, was one of the more turbulent times of his career. Injuries in the patella, or kneecap, were hindering his progress, so his coaches proposed a change. Early on, it didn’t sit well with Christian.

“It was so early in my career; it [the change] didn’t make sense. It seemed kind of stupid to make an adjustment like that after winning Olympic gold, but it’s worked out great,” he said. “I’ve been able to triple jump farther than I ever have before. The change will give me extra life on my career. Now I can go to competitions and really crank it up, and to compete on the elite stage, that’s what it’s all about.”

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