Christian Taylor: Double Olympic triple jump champ set to miss Tokyo Games

The U.S. athletics star and favourite for gold in Tokyo suffered a ruptured Achilles at Wednesday’s Ostrava Golden Spike meet, undergoing surgery just two months out from the Games. 

By Sean McAlister
Picture by 2017 Getty Images

Christian Taylor, the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic men's triple jump champion, is set to miss this year’s Tokyo 2020 Games after suffering an injury during a takeoff at the Ostrava athletics meet that took place on Wednesday (19 May 2021) in Czech Republic.

The news was broken by Taylor’s fiance, Austrian hurdler Beate Schrott, who explained in an Instagram post: “Christian ruptured his Achilles during the competition in Ostrava yesterday. It’s heartbreaking. Really,” before adding: “He already underwent surgery which went well. Doctors and therapists are taking very good care of him.”

Taylor, 30, has dominated triple jump over the past decade, winning gold medals at the last two Olympics, as well as World Athletics Championship titles in 2011, 2015, 2017, and 2019. At this year’s Games he was on course to equal the historic three-peat achieved by Russian triple jumper Viktor Danilovich Saneyev who won three consecutive triple jump golds at Mexico 1968, Munich 1972 and Mexico City 1968.

Taylor’s coach Rana Reider explained the extent of the injury to Reuters on Thursday, saying: "It was his right Achilles and a complete rupture. We got him to a surgeon in Germany and got it repaired this morning. The surgery went well and they were able to repair it. It was a clean break and a clean surgery.”

However, when asked whether Taylor would have any chance of returning to competition in 2021, Reider could only say: "I don’t think so."

While Taylor has been the sport’s major force over the past 10 years, recent performances from challengers including his USA teammate Will Claye, who won the Ostrava event and finished second behind Taylor at the last two Olympic Games, and indoor world record holder Hugues Fabrice Zango (Burkina Faso), had meant the Tokyo 2020 triple jump competition was one of the most highly anticipated in recent memory.

Claye has recorded the longest outdoor triple jump since the beginning of 2019, while Zango’s 2021 indoor mark of 18.07m showed he is in the form of his life in an Olympic year. It remains to be seen whether either of these jumpers will trouble Great Britain triple jump legend Jonathan Edwards 26-year-old world record of 18.29m set in August 1995 when they take to the field in Tokyo.