LONDON – Triple jumper Christian Taylor has the world at his feet.
With a hop, step and a jump, he became the first member of Team USA to win the IAAF World Championships on the heels of a gold medal at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
Since 2011, Taylor has won a remarkable five of six global titles – world crowns in 2011, 2015 and 2017 and Olympic gold medals in 2012 and 2016. In 2013, he placed fourth and then changed legs in his jumping pattern.
He became the first triple jumper to win three world championships and the first to win two in a row.
Teammate Will Claye claimed his third world championships medal as Team USA went 1-2 in the men's triple jump for the first time in world history. Taylor and Claye went 1-3 in 2011.
“Will Claye makes it difficult for me every time,” Taylor said.
Taylor overtook Claye on his third jump, leaping 17.68 meters (58 feet, 0 1/4 inches). Claye’s best leap was also his third attempt – 17.63 (57-10 1/4) – and neither improved on their subsequent three jumps.
"He is not unbeatable,” said Claye, who became the 2017 national champion while Taylor intentionally fouled because he had a bye into worlds. “He just executed better and I was missing five centimeters.
"It is hard enough to make the American team so when you make the team, you are expected to win a medal. So I am glad we made the one and two.”
Nelson Evora of Portugal was third (17.19/56-4 3/4), edging Team USA’s Chris Benard (17.16/56-3 3/4).
While Taylor was proud of his victory, he didn’t quite do everything he set out to do: the world record remains beyond his grasp.
Although he doesn’t really need a reminder, Taylor has written 18.30 inside his shoe. That’s the metric mark he needs to be the world record holder. Jonathan Edwards of Great Britain jumped 18.29 in 1995.
With Edwards looking on – he’s a television commentator – Taylor couldn’t muster an 18-meter jump. He had jumped 18.11 earlier this year and was primed for a record before about 55,000 people in London Stadium.
"I will get this number,” Taylor vowed. “The record is still on. I am still motivated to break that record.
"My motivation is to be the best athlete. This was not the night. I am a little disappointed, but the season is not yet over.”
Claye won Olympic silver medals at the last two Olympic Games behind Taylor and was the world bronze medalist in 2013 and 2011.
"You can never complain about the silver medal,” Claye said. “But it is always just the second best player in the field and I felt like I should have executed better today. I will just continue to work harder and whenever it is my time, I will be ready.”