An introduction to Olympic triple jumper, Christian Taylor
Inspiration. Every day the Lifeplus community strives to inspire people around the world to live well. People get it from their work, their families, their mentors, their heroes and even their personal and business challenges.
Our community is full of inspirational people and we’re proud to expand this by introducing a new sponsorship deal with American Olympic Triple Jumper, Christian Taylor.
Christian shares the same mission as Lifeplus which made him an ideal fit: to help others to be the best they can and live well. His determination, focus and passion to give back resonates with the attributes of our customers. It’s shown through his path to success, just like our community.
“The bridge with Lifeplus is that we met right in the middle with our values. Learning about the quality control, the integrity and the sense of family – these are values I can rely on but also values I want to keep close to me on my journey. For me, the glove fit perfectly and I’m so grateful and excited to be a part of this family. Thank you Lifeplus” – Christian Taylor
More than a triple jumper – Christian’s achievements:
- 2-Time Olympic Champion
- 4x World Champion
- 7x Diamond League Winner
- Competed internationally in 400m
- Formed the Athletics Association in the US
We’ll be following and supporting Christian as he prepares for Paris Olympics 2024. Read his interview below to get to know him and discover all about the journey he’s been on to get to where he is today.
Get to know Christian Taylor…
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve overcome as an athlete?
I would say the biggest challenge so far would equally be between rupturing my Achilles last summer and missing my third Olympic game. Or a few years back, due to other injuries I actually had to switch my jumping legs and relearn how to jump again. Both of them were major setbacks for me but having to change my jumping legs actually was a significant success story. I ended up jumping further than I had before – and now I’m hoping I’m in the position to do the same!
How have those challenges shaped you today?
I think it has in terms of my outlook on life or my expectancy towards defining your destiny and almost having a more optimistic outlook on setbacks. That may sound weird but now I’m in a position of expectancy that even if something does go wrong, it has the opportunity to set you up for something greater. Before my big injury, my doctor said to me; “Look, you can give it up or you can learn how to jump again”. At 23 years old, doing top-level sport for 10 years, I just thought I can be happy with my career but maybe there’s still a bit more for me to give. I’m so happy that I pushed through because I ended up being better than ever. That just showed me that with a bit of courage and perseverance, you can actually do more than maybe you even think you can accomplish. So that’s why I try to push myself all the time. You don’t put limits on yourself because we’re almost limitless.
What did your family and friends think of your mentality after the injury?
At times they think I’m a bit crazy, but my family are so supportive with everything I do. After the injury they questioned me starting over as I had already reached the top and was an Olympic champion. But once I had committed to it, they were fully behind me. That’s when I moved to Loughborough, and I actually connected with James Ellington. As you know, with his story, he has this ‘no quit’ attitude. He was literally facing death and was still so committed to coming back. Having somebody like him to lean on, as well as the support system with my family and friends, makes it easier to keep fighting for something even when it’s difficult to see the finish line.
Who is your hero?
It may be cheesy, but I would actually say my father. We almost speak every day, if possible, no matter where I am in the world – thanks to technology. He’s someone that has been such a really pure example for me, especially of what it means to be a loving father and husband. He was a tennis player himself, so I got to see him in the sporting arena too. He’s inspired from lots of different avenues but for me, the things I value the most were his example of being a father as that’s something I strive to be myself.
Do you have a specific mantra?
I think these things are very seasonal. I know some people really have a life thing that they hold on to but for me, life has changed so much and with Covid and everything, we’ve really seen how many unexpected things can come our way. Right now, and the season I’m in, it’s Michael Jordan’s quote: “You’re never going to make the shots you don’t take.” I think if I’m fearful and unwilling to try something new or go out on a limb, I’m not going to know what I’m capable of. So, it’s building that confidence again and just taking the shot. What’s the worst that can happen? I know that may sound weird as so many people are focused on success, but I’m not scared of failure at this point.
What’s your proudest achievement?
The proudest thing for me would actually be graduating college. I actually took a ten-year break to pursue my athletic dreams between my third and fourth year – but I’ve always been so committed to graduating. It’s something I really wanted to do for myself. So, this year I actually got inducted into the hall of fame for my university (University of Florida) and that was really like a full circle for me. I felt it was real recognition from my university of my athletic achievements and I loved being a student there, so it means a lot.
Do you have any specific goals this year?
The ultimate goal is preparing for Paris 2024. But we have the World Championships in Oregon this summer. As an American, I take pride in having a home championship so that’s definitely something I’m aiming for. Plus, I’m the reigning champion so I’m working on defending this title. But the ultimate thing is building towards Paris. Every year is a steppingstone towards that.
What does your training schedule look like at the moment?
I train every day except Thursdays and Sundays. At the moment it’s a bit sporadic because of the competitions coming up but if I’m not competing or travelling, I’m training. For example, in the next 10 days, I have three competitions in three different countries so it can sometimes be a bit wild. So, I do enjoy the moments when I can lay in my own bed and do my own cooking, rather than staying in a hotel.
What do you like to do in your spare time, when you’re not training?
I’m recently married so now my wife and I try to find ways to date each other. We go on date nights. Vienna is an amazing city, so we just try to explore and be a tourist in our backyard. Or just dream of the future, like building a house one day.
What do you do to give back?
For the past eight years, I’ve been a mentor for a program called Classroom Champions. With Covid, this is more virtual that anything now but prior to this, it was in class at several schools every year.
I also work with an organization that’s focused on ending human trafficking. It’s something my wife and I have really supported over the last six or seven years as it’s something we’re just really passionate about ending. Aside from this, I participate in walks and various other fundraisers.
What makes you as a high-performing athlete tick?
For me, it’s legacy focused. How do I want to be remembered? That’s something my club coach really instilled with me from early on when I was 15 or 16 years of age. He said that I can do it for fun but also, I need to think about how people will remember me when I’m done. Did I have good sportsmanship? Did I always bring my A-game? Things like this are really my ultimate focus and motivation. I want to be able to know that I inspired some people to take up athletics, and maybe even triple jump specifically. It’s also about the win, lose and draw. Whatever the result, enjoy every moment of training and competing. Cherish the gift that you have and do it with class and mostly with a smile, right? To lose and still have that sense of joy is something very unique and special. It’s something I want to project. It’s something I love about social media that anyone can reach out to you. I’ve had messages to say, ‘I know it probably didn’t work out the way you wanted to but thank you for taking the time to speak with my kids and having a good attitude through it all.’ For me, that’s what I’m doing it for. Making a difference.
What piece of advice would you give to those starting out?
Self-confidence is huge. Believe in yourself. It goes back to taking the shot. Believe you can do it, even if you’ve never done it before. If you don’t try, you will never know.
I’m big with meditation, as well as visualization. Sometimes you have to envision it before you actually do it. It’s been so powerful for me, especially in the times where I’ve had injuries or if something hasn’t gone my way. I need to refocus, realign and see myself go through those motions, in that environment, etc. When I go to championships, I’m not nervous because I’ve envisioned myself being at that championship a thousand times before. For me, it’s like I’m walking through my visions.
So ultimately, see yourself doing something before you do it and believe that you can do it.
Which strengths do you believe you have that make you a great athlete?
As you can probably tell from what I’ve been saying – self-belief. I would say my optimism, having that perspective so when in doubt, I genuinely like to focus on the positive outcome. Believe it or not, it’s really not common. I found the more and more places I’ve been and the more training partners I’ve had, it’s so easy to focus on the negatives or believe that something’s not going to work out. It is challenging to stay positive.
I think another part of my strengths is that I’m a real sponge and willing to learn. At this point of my career, I want to be seen as open and coachable. I’m always learning from every situation, and I think that’s really contributed to me adapting with age, to my environment and circumstances. I always have the mind-set to think ‘what do I bring to the table?’ and ‘how can I benefit from this?’. It’s about keeping an open mind.
Without focusing too much on the negatives, are there any weaknesses you’re trying to improve on?
Balance is important. As much as we don’t want to focus on the negatives, it’s important to be realistic and put things into perspective.
In terms of my weakness, I can be overly invested in my visualization and maybe not be present for those around me. I’m always forward thinking about the next step and sometimes that can prevent me from enjoying the moment.
It’s a blessing and a curse. It’s the reason why I’ve always been able to achieve what I’ve achieved. But the downfalls are that I’ve also missed many moments where I should have just sat back and said, ‘we did this!’.
How did you get into sports in the first place?
Sport has always been very important in my life. My dad was super active – whether it was football or tennis. For me, it’s because he was my role model, it was something I wanted to also do to follow his footsteps. My parents were super supportive from the very beginning. I tried everything – golf, tennis, swimming, baseball, basketball. And with trial and error, I found out what I was good at and what I wasn’t. It narrowed it down to track and field or athletics. I was blessed with my childhood to have parents that pushed me to try different things.
Was there any other sport that came as a close second?
Football was my passion. I saw myself being in the World Cup, getting picked for a premier team and travelling the world. I love travelling and I wanted to see the world through football. But unfortunately, my passion was greater that my talent. I did athletics to stay fit for football originally, but my dad had to be honest with me and told me to pursue something different. That’s when I went into athletics properly.
What do you think is the greatest challenge that athletes as a whole face today?
The good thing about the times we’re in is that mental health is becoming an issue of importance. It may sound really vague, but the reality is that 10 years ago, if you had an issue and you were dealing with something as a young male, it wouldn’t be taken seriously. Dealing with situations is actually finally being encouraged and I think it’s so important. The biggest challenge for athletes, from my perspective, are the unseen challenges. Not the injuries that are visible, but the one that people struggle with behind closed doors. No one ever has to go through it alone and that message couldn’t be more key for people to hear.
Has there been a piece of advice that you’ve received that has stuck by you for your career?
Yeah, it was actually from one of my college team mates which I’m so grateful for to this day. He just told me to have fun. It’s so simple but you can be really distracted with so many things – striving to be better and the world of social media. It all means nothing if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing. Sometimes I have to just remind myself the reason I’m doing all of this.
How do you keep the team spirit going in athletics?
It’s actually just my wife and I when it comes to training. When I make a national team, there’s a lot of pride in bringing back as many medals and representing your nation or university in the best way. I take a lot of pride in the people, the organizations and the universities I represent and that’s the driving force.
What does your diet look like, and does it change in the lead up to a competition?
I love cooking in general so any opportunity I have to explore new meals, I really enjoy it. I generally eat pretty well throughout the year. In the lead up to a competition, we’ll be a bit more focused and be mindful of how the different foods affect your body, with recovery most importantly. But balance is also important. I’m far from perfect and I do like a treat every now and again.
You’re a four-time world champion. Does the buzz ever go when you’re competing for these big competitions?
Every competition, I’ll get introduced as Olympic champion and World Champion and it feels really good for a few seconds. But every time I compete, I remember today is someone’s day. You always have to earn a title, whether I’m the defending champion or not, it’s not handed to me. I’m grateful for the accolades but whenever I show up, I’m conscious about being my best as I know I will be challenged just as hard as other people want that title.
Follow his journey to Paris Olympics 2024!
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