Two-time Olympic gold medallist Christian Taylor still has high hopes of wearing Barbados’ national colours. But that might take some time because after a previous attempt he has yet to receive the passport to realize his dream.
The world’s best triple-jumper, born in the United States to Barbadian parents Stephanie and Ian Taylor, is in Barbados for a few days and met with local media this afternoon at Bougainvillea Beach Hotel in Maxwell, Christ Church where he also greeted students from Christ Church Foundation School and the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.
Taylor captured gold at the 2012 Olympic Games and defied all odds to become the second man in 40 years to win consecutive gold medals in his event, at the just concluded Rio Olympics. He said today that he was still passionate about representing Barbados and inspiring young Barbadian athletes.
“It is going to be quite a process regardless, because a country has to release you. But the process is definitely ongoing. The seed was planted two years ago when I spoke and I went into town to do the passport procedure and I did the paperwork but I am still awaiting the passport.
“It is something I am passionate about. I take a lot of pride in this island and it would be special not only to [speak with these kids] in the schools but to show these kids that I can wear the colours also. And so I am just taking it one step at a time but hopefully with this visit maybe we will see what can happen,” he said.
The reigning 2015 World Champion also had high praise for Akela Jones and explained how excited he was to see the Barbadian track and field queen perform in Rio.
“I am a big fan of Akela, even at Kansa State University, she is just a big girl and I was always amazed with her size and what she can do and to see her now at the Olympic Games. I mean her first day [she] was on fire and that just got me really excited and I said I want to carry that torch, that momentum, and I think what she is doing is phenomenal. I think she represents in a very good light because she is still young and maybe she can do two or three more Olympics. I am a big fan of the sport and I would like to see what she has left in the tank,” Taylor told Barbados TODAY.
Starting tomorrow Taylor will visit a number of schools across the island especially those in the rural parish of St Philip where his family resides.
While interacting with the students he intends to advise them to seek God first, always have fun and make the necessary sacrifices to better themselves.
“My faith is very strong and it is something I take a lot of pride in because I know none of this would really be possible. I know my transition, with my legs, and being a professional athlete. I am very grateful for all my blessings. Secondly, [I’ll tell them] to have fun no matter what sports they are into, whether it is track and field, cricket and football, because every day is a blessing. I love what I do I do not take my job for granted and I believe it is the best job in the world. And last but not least [I’ll tell them about] sacrifice. Any dream or goal that you have, it takes sacrifice.
“The last time I spoke about giving up Crop Over and giving up a lot of fun events that I truly cherish and enjoy. But I told myself if I am going to be professional I have to live like a professional, I have to treat my body like a professional and I have to sacrifice some things that seemed fun at the time. But wearing this [gold medal] around my neck feeling this weight makes it worth it,” he said.
The 26-year-old relived his moments at the Olympics and said much was expected of him and coming into the triple jump event as an underdog gave him greater motivation to produce the 17.86m on his first attempt in Rio that ultimately became the winning jump.
In addition, he said his unfortunate left knee injury that forced him to switch to his right [lead] when competing, had been more challenging mentally than physically.
“I didn’t believe it was going to be the first jump that would have won it. Usually my fifth and sixth jumps are the ones that steal the show. But God had a different plan for me that day and I was in a very positive mindset coming out of the Olympic village. I knew it was going to be a special day. I just took that fire that drives one to competition. The Chinese men put a really big jump out there and I knew how to respond and I put a big one out there that was further than most people’s personal best and from there I felt the competition was mine. I was in the driver’s seat and I just rode with it.
“To win a World and Olympic title at twenty-one, twenty-two, it seemed the world was at my feet. And then to have this injury and the doctors say if you continue to jump on it, your career would be a painful one. But I said to myself this can’t be the end of my story. So I had to learn how to turn every situation into positive,” Taylor said.