Olympic Triple Jump Champion dreams of Double Gold in Moscow

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Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor is taking an unusual approach to the start of this year’s outdoor season by planning on running a 4x100m relay with Britain’s top sprinters – Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, James Ellington and Dwain Chambers – before taking on another Brit: Greg Rutherford. Apart from his main event, the triple jump, the athlete is taking a particular interest in the long jump this season where he feels he could make the double at this year’s World Championships in Moscow.

Looking back at the event in London last year where Rutherford took gold in front of a home crowd with 8.31m, the shortest distance to win an Olympic gold since 1972, Taylor explains why he is considering to go on double duty: “Because I have a wild card in the triple jump as the defending champion, I am absolutely going to try the long jump at the US trials. There are no outstanding marks right now, so I think it is really any man’s game to take that gold in Russia.”

 
Having recently swapped sunny Florida for the rainy UK, the only 22-year old athlete from Daytona Beach is now training in Loughborough, after his coach Rana Reider was appointed as a sprint, hurdles and horizontal jumps coach by British Athletics. His new training group liked the idea of the gold medallist from London joining them and had no troubles including the American in their events. 
 
“When we ‘re in Florida for warm weather training, I’ll be running 200s and hopefully a 4×100 – we’re trying to get on a 4×1 with Harry, James and Dwain and see how that works, but I’m really excited about it. And then at the end of April my first jump competition will be at Drake Relays. “

Despite his success in recent years and athletics being an individual sport, the double duty jumper sees the importance of being in a mixed training group: “I think I’m benefitting more from them than they are from me, especially speed-wise.

“I’m trying to sponge off them, trying to take in as much as possible from each person. Because that’s what training groups are for – you give to the group and the group gives back.”
 
Apart from benefitting from the British sprinters’ speed, Taylor has his sight set on one Englishman in particular. Jonathan Edwards has held the triple jump world record since 1995 and no-one has since come close to his mark of 18.29m. But with a personal best of 17.98m and still only at the very beginning of his career, Taylor is confident that in the right environment and with a bit of the master’s help, he can break that record.
 
“He is the best and if you want to be the best, you have to learn from the best. I think I have the potential of breaking the world record. Achieving this would be huge, not only for me, but for bringing attention back to the triple jump. It has been a while that attention was on anything else but the sprints.”
 
Moving to Loughborough required a lot of change in attitude for the youngster. Admitting to not being used to the British climate Taylor explains: “Training wise the move has made me tougher than I have ever been.
“I’ve always been in Florida where it was beautiful weather all year round. Now I have to go out of my element and have to go and workout in like 4-5 degrees and it’s misty and rainy outside. I hate it, but I think mentally and physically it’s made me a lot tougher and I think I really benefitted from it. ”
 
Next week the training group will, to Taylor’s delight, embark on a month’s long warm weather training in Florida where, after taking part in the unprecedented US-GB relay extravaganza, the reigning World and Olympic champion will start focussing on what he does best: jumping into a sandpit.
 
See what he had to say when I caught up with him at the British Athletics UK Indoor Championships and European Trials.