Who will claim Christian Taylor's men's triple jump crown? We asked him ahead of the final

Christian Taylor is the two-time reigning Olympic champion in triple jump. An Achilles injury dashed his hopes at No.3 in Tokyo so we got his thoughts on who could claim gold.

Picture by 2021 Getty Images

For the first time in nearly a decade, a man other than Christian Taylor can claim to be the greatest triple jumper in the world, with the Tokyo 2020 final taking place on Thursday (5 August).

Taylor is the two-time and reigning Olympic champion, in addition to the 2011, 2015, 2017, and 2019 world champ. But the American's dreams of an Olympic treble were dashed by an Achilles injury earlier this year, and he's now in recovery mode.

He's also in fan mode, watching as much of the Games from his training base in Austria as possible: "This is very nerve-wracking... I feel like I'm going through the roller coaster of emotions," he said in an Olympic Instagram live. "I'm handing off the baton to the new Olympic champ. It's a bit surreal this is the final day I'll be the reigning champion. After two Games... this is a changing of the guards."

The men's triple jump in athletics is set for 11:00 JST inside Olympic Stadium, with 12 athletes set to compete.

That includes two of Taylor's American compatriots, Will Claye and Donald Scott.

It's Portugal's Pedro Pichardo whose personal best of 18.08m rises above the rest, a two-time world silver medallist, who also has the best jump of the season among the final field at 17.92m.

"Pichardo seems to be the favourite after qualification," said Taylor, a nod to Pichardo's massive 17.71m in qualifying - the best of any finalist. "He's got a lot of experience and he's always been on the cusp, from world champions to the Olympics. He's just always been right there. I think he can feel that the gold medal is there."

It's not that simple though, says Taylor.

"Once you get into the final it's anyone's game. Though someone comes in as the favourite - and we've seen it in these Games and throughout history - because you come in as the favorite that doesn't mean that's going to be the outcome. Someone can have the day of their life, the competition of their life. ... I always am a bit hesitant to say who I think is going to win, because you just never know."

Taylor: 'I believe it's going to be a classic'

So who could spoil Pichardo's crowning?

Taylor calls out Hugues Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso.

"Anything is possible.... I don't think it's going to be over until the sixth round. I believe it's going to be a classic those two." Christian Taylor on Pichardo v Zango

Also to watch out for: China's Zhu Yaming, Cristian Napoles of Cuba, and Italian Andrea Dallavalle, the top three from Group A in qualies, as well as Necati Er of Turkey, Yasser Mohamed Triki of Algeria and Emanuel Ihemeje of Italy - top five in Group B.

Rounding out the final are Fang Yaoqing of China and Melvin Raffin of France.

Whoever ends up as champion, Taylor will be watching it all play out.

"I'm definitely going to watch it," he said with a smile. "I'm going to take a deep breath... it's going to be emotional."

MORE: See the full final start list for the men's triple jump

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