Christian Taylor is a name you need to know. He’s one of the most dominant athletes in his discipline – the triple jump. He’s won 6 of the last 7 global outdoor championships dating back to 2011 including 2 Olympic and 4 World Championship gold medals. He is President of the recently formed Athletics Association, an athlete’s union created to advocate for athlete-centered change in the sport. And, he is an outspoken advocate for clean sport.
In this wide-ranging interview, Kara and Chris begin by discussing Christian’s childhood growing up as a multi-sport athlete where he played soccer, football, and golf before initially turning to run cross country as a way to stay in shape for soccer. Christian laughs as he describes those early cross country meets where he would use his sprint skills to lead for the first 400m meters of the race before falling back as the finish line approached. Those experiences “sucking wind” on longer courses would eventually lead him to the track where he could use his speed instead. In high school, he became a dominant force in the long jump, triple jump, and 400m dash before winning a World Youth Championship at 17 years old.
Christian discusses his success in high school and how that led him to the University of Florida where he won 3 NCAA titles and dominated the triple jump along with teammates and rivals Omar Craddock and Will Claye. Christian talks about his first World Championship gold medal at the age of 21 and how words of inspiration from his idol during the meet helped propel him to a huge personal best jump and first senior outdoor title. He gives his keys to success over the last 9 years including what it took to change lead legs for his jumps to protect his knee, a process he equates to changing your dominant writing hand. He is now the only athlete to win two Olympic gold medals while jumping with different lead legs.
Then, we turn to his advocacy for clean sport and athlete rights including why he is passionate about both and what he hopes to accomplish as President of the Athletics Association. We discuss his experience with the whereabouts filing system including how many missed tests he’s had in the last nine years and why he places responsibility on the athlete and agent for any issue with missed tests. Finally, Christian shares his perspective growing up as a black man in the US including how recent events have affected him and what he hopes to see happen next.
Christian is an amazing ambassador for our sport. He brings so much joy and hope to this interview. We know you will be a fan of his and the triple jump after you listen!