By Charlie Akers | BSU at the Games
Triple jumper Christian Taylor didn’t learn his Olympic sport in a traditional way. After doing the long jump until he was 15 years old, he decided to find a new sport in a non-traditional way – through YouTube.
“I got on YouTube and talked to my coach about it and he said maybe you should try this out,” Taylor said.
Taylor began studying the YouTube videos because he became bored with the simple running and jumping of the long jump he said. After his coach said yes, he prowled the internet video site and ordered some DVDs to help him master his new sport. He watched the greats of time and made notes of what they were doing to help him become the Olympian he is today.
When Taylor first started watching videos on YouTube one of the athletes he watched was Great Britain triple jumper Phillips Idowu. The two of them are now rivals competing against each other. Phillips has withdrawn from the past few meetings due to injury but is competing in the Olympics.
Before Taylor became an Olympian he created Georgia high school records in long jump, triple jump and the 400m he still holds. At the University of Florida, where he attended for three years, he was a 10-time All American and won eight SEC championships.
Then, Taylor won the 2011 gold medal in the triple jump at the World Outdoor competition.
“Last year, I was the underdog. It took one jump, and I went from the last person into the finals to the winner,” Taylor said. “I’m confident, and hopefully I will be in the finals. I’m going for the gold.”
Even with the young age of all the jumpers, Team USA men’s coach Andrew Valmon has faith in them.
“They are students of the sport. To be a student is to be successful,” Valmon said.
Despite Taylor being the current World Champion he is not taking anything for granted and is working hard for gold. He trained through hot weather, cold weather and rain. According to Taylor he is ready for anything.
“I’m going jump by jump. My main focus is the qualifying rounds,” Taylor said. “I’m trying to be the young cat that brings it back.”
The USA has not had an Olympic medal in triple jump since Kenny Harrison in 1996. Now, seven years after watching his first YouTube clip, Taylor is hoping to win one in his first Olympic appearance.
Charlie Akers is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Charlie and the BSU team at @the8thKing,@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.