USA’s London 2012 Olympic Games and 2011 IAAF World Championships triple jump gold medallist Christian Taylor will make his 2014 debut in his specialist event at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai, China, on Sunday (18).
“I just want to give the fans a show and get some Diamond League points,” said Taylor modestly at a press conference on Thursday (15).
He has won the Diamond Race in his event for the last two years. “It’s the first Diamond League meeting this season with a triple jump so I want maximum points, and to have a good time.”
In the long term though, he wants to join the elite and very select group of men – just three at the moment - who have jumped 18 metres or more.
It is an iconic barrier that Taylor has been trying to breach himself for some time. His personal best is agonisingly close at 17.96m, just 33cm short of Jonathan Edwards’ long-standing world record.
However, at the World Championships last summer, he witnessed first hand what an 18-metre jump looks like when France’s Teddy Tamgho took the gold medal in Moscow with a leap of 18.04m
“Seeing that made it real for me,” added Taylor. “From my training, I definitely thought I could do it, but it was done to me, not by me.
“Before that the world record seemed unattainable, now it doesn’t. But it’s about taking baby steps towards it. Hopefully, I won’t need too many before I can get the big one.”
Taylor face his friend, fellow American and former university team mate Will Claye, a long and triple jump medallist from London 2012, as well as Great Britain’s 2009 World champion, Phillips Idowu.
Trinidad and Tobago’s 400m hurdler Jehue Gordon is gearing up for this summer’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow with a race against USA’s Michael Tinsley, the man he beat to win the 2013 world title.
“I want to give it my best here because this is the start of the build-up to the Commonwealth Games, which is very important for us in the Caribbean,” said the 22-year-old Gordon.
He broke his own national record to win the gold medal in Moscow, clocking 47.69, and said his ultimate aim is to, “get as close as possible to 47 seconds,” before then thinking about Kevin Young’s world record of 46.78 from the 1992 Olympic Games.
“Very few people have been close to 47 seconds since, but the record is not really my focus at the moment,” commented Gordon. “I just want to be more consistent.
“It’s never easy for me because I’m still a full-time student at the University of West Indies. This is going to be the first real test for me out here on Sunday.”
Gatlin gunning for sub-10
Justin Gatlin is hoping to notch up his first 100m victory of the 2014 Diamond Race. The American sprinter ran 10.02 into a stiff headwind at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Tokyo last weekend, and Gatlin is gunning for his first sub-10 second run of the year when he takes on Jamaica’s World and Olympic 4x100m relay champion Nesta Carter and St Kitts’ former World champion Kim Collins.
The fastest 100m in the world so far is 9.98 by South Africa’s Simon Magakwe.
“This is a down year in terms of there being no World Championships or Olympics, so I want to set the tempo as some opponents take it easier, and then carry that dominance on to the World Championships in 2015 and Olympic year,” he said.
“I believe as athletes we have a duty to train as hard as we can and look for opportunities to break records. Records that stand for a long time put an event on pause.
“For me, I want to go out and break the US record. That’s my focus for this year and the next.”
Gatlin first competed in Shanghai nine years ago shortly after winning both sprint titles at the 2005 IAAF World Championships.
He was back in the city last year when he placed second to Warren Weir in a rain-drenched 200m.
“This meeting has always been a great experience for me,” he said. “Even last year, in the pouring rain, I still ran good times. I think I’m capable for running very, very fast at the beginning of this season. I hope I can excite the fans with that.”
Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown was another guest at Thursday press conference and on Sunday will race over 200m against her compatriot Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the woman who has succeeded her as Olympic and world 200m champion in the last two seasons.
“I’m working on getting back into a competitive spirit and getting race sharp again,” said Campbell-Brown, who celebrated her 32nd birthday on Thursday.
“I just want to get better technically, because it’s all about preparing myself for the next two years.
“This meet is a great meet,” she added. “It’s good to be here in China with the World Championships in Beijing next year. I like the Bird’s Nest. I had great success in that stadium and I’m looking forward to going back there.”
Organisers for the IAAF