Five things you didn't know about Christian Taylor

He's a two-time triple jump Olympic gold medallist and holds four world titles, but here are some lesser-known facts about the American multi-event star.
By Olympic Channel

With two Olympic gold medals and four world titles, Christian Taylor is the undisputed triple jump king.

But he is far from satisfied.

Instead, the American is obsessed with Jonathan Edwards, the only man ever to jump further.

Taylor admits to constantly re-watching the Brit’s gravity-defying 18.29m world record leap at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, and wants to set the world record straight at the Tokyo Games in 2021.

“If the stars align, that will be me,” he said at the Inspiration Games online press conference. “I want to be stronger, faster on that day of the Olympic finals. Only the finish line has moved [the postponement], but the goals are still the same."

"I want to be the best in the world. I want to be the best person on the day. That’s what’s most important to me." - Christian Taylor

Taylor is one of the headline acts at the Inspiration Games in Zurich, where 30 top athletes will compete simultaneously across eight disciplines in seven different venues.

Followers in India, Japan, Germany, Italy can stream the 9 July event live on Olympic Channel.

Below, we take a look at five interesting facts behind his success…

1 - Christian Taylor is more than a triple jumper

With so many accolades to his name, you might have thought Taylor dedicated all of his training to one event.

But the Georgia native’s athletic talents extend almost as far as his world-leading triple jumps.

Taylor’s impressive 400m sprint time of 45.07 seconds has seen him represent Team USA on the track at international level, winning gold as part of the 4x400m relay team at the 2014 World Indoor Championships.

Taylor also has a personal best of 8.19m in the long jump, claiming bronze in that event at the 2007 World Youth Championships.

In his first year at the University of Florida he won titles in all three disciplines [including the 4x400m relay] at the Southeastern Conference Indoor Championships.

Unsurprisingly, Taylor's siblings were blessed with their strong family sporting genes too - his sister was a track and field athlete at the University of Kentucky, while his cousin was an American football star at Arizona State.

2 - Switching take-off legs

After winning his first Olympic title at London 2012, Taylor made the brave decision to start jumping off his right leg, due to the injuries he had sustained to his left knee in the attritional world of triple jump.

It was a difficult transition, but he fully committed to the change after finishing out of the medals at the 2013 World Championships in Moscow.

After a difficult year in which he only won two events, he soon adapted and set the second-longest triple jump in history at the 2015 World Championships, before taking out another Olympic gold medal at Rio 2016.

Ahead of Rio, he told USA Today, "I had to relearn the event. It was just repetition, repetition, repetition. It wasn’t easy. It’s a lot of coordination, a lot of timing, muscle development that goes into it."

And speaking to Team USA after retaining his Olympic crown, he said, "The first year was very tough. But we continued to fight and the following year I ended up being a world champ 8cm short of the world record. Now I sit in front of you with the gold medal so it was the best decision I ever made."

"When your back is against the wall you have to fight it or lie down so I decided to take the challenge.” - Christian Taylor to Athletics Weekly on switching take-off legs

3 - Ditching carbs to save his career

While Usain Bolt famously ate chicken nuggets before his Beijing 2008 heroics, Taylor’s choice of unorthodox pre-competition meal at the London 2012 Games consisted of a McFlurry.

That’s right, the Olympic gold medallist’s performance was fuelled by ice-cream!

“I figured maybe a little ice cream here and there would calm my nerves down and make me feel regular again,” he told GQ.

However, when he changed jumping legs just over a year later, Taylor also cut out carbohydrates and high-sugar snacks in order to reduce inflammation in his new jumping knee and ankle joints.

The self-confessed pizza, pasta, and sandwich lover replaced his favourite foods with salads, vegetables, and fruit, and the excess swelling went away.

Christian Taylor on his way to clinching his fourth world title in Doha in September 2019

4 - A citizen of the world

Despite growing up in Georgia, and attending college in the hot and humid climes of Florida, Taylor took the unusual decision for an American athlete to relocate his training base to Europe.

The jumping prodigy followed his coach to Loughborough, United Kingdom, where Rana Reider had taken up a post at the British Athletics National Performance Institute.

While Taylor admitted the wet weather took some getting used to, he was enamoured with the British public’s passion for athletics.

He then joined Reider in moving to Netherlands, where they trained alongside several other world-class athletes at the Olympic Centre in Arnhem.

Taylor now calls Vienna, Austria home, where he is training and completing an internship as part of a Bachelor of Science degree in online sport management.

5 - Best style in the Game

American sports stars are famously loyal to their college teams and University of Florida alumni Taylor is no different.

The Gator great won four NCAA championships titles in his college colours, and often competes in brightly coloured spikes that honour UF.

None were more impressive than his alligator scale-patterned efforts at the 2016 US Olympic trials.