Christian Taylor celebrates after winning at men's triple jump at the ISTAF 2020 athletics meeting on Sept. 13, 2020 in Berlin.
Christian Taylor’s pinned tweet, the welcome mat to his Twitter feed, only hints at the year he’s had.
It harkens back to the events of May 19, 2021, when an Achilles’ heel rupture derailed the triple jumper’s go-round at the Golden Spikes in the Czech Republic, and with it his bid for a third straight Olympic gold medal in Tokyo two months later.
By Nov. 1, Taylor was tersely tweeting, “Character building season.” He punctuated that thinly veiled euphemism for adversity with what is called the “angry face” emoji.
But typically, and especially lately, Taylor does not fume in the flesh, online or by phone. He is teeming with faith, and exalting the all-star team of supporters who have reared, rooted, and sometimes razzed him back to competitive form.
“It’s actually been a tremendous year, believe it or not,” he said. The tear in his tendon proved an opening to new and enhanced relationships plus personal and professional upgrades.
“I’m such a believer in the support system you have,” he said, “and the people you surround yourself with really mold you as a person.”
On a literal level, those surroundings were sparse at the saga’s painful outset. Taylor admits he vaguely felt elements of his game were off in the days leading up to his injury. When it happened, he phoned his wife — Austrian world-class hurdler Beate Schrott, who he went nine months without seeing in person due to COVID-19 restrictions — from the ambulance.
“Saying it out loud just made it real, (but) it still didn’t sink in,” he recalled. “It really didn’t hit me until I looked down and saw (my foot) in a cast.”
Within a day, surgery put Taylor on the path to recovery. From afar, via Instagram, Schrott was just as swift to tout her husband’s elasticity. When the opportunity arrived, she would do her part to see that resilience through to its ceiling.
But before he could refocus on heights, Taylor widened his network. He had family — both home and athletic — and he had his pastors. In the last year, he has naturally welcomed medical personnel to that fold, along with additional sporting advisors and the perspectives they impart.
“I’ve never worked with USOPC more than now,” he noted. “It’s been really, really important and actually groundbreaking.”