Olympic triple jump champions Caterine Ibarguen and Christian Taylor were introduced this afternoon as the athlete representatives for the Americas team at this weekend’s IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018, eager the reclaim the overall title they won in the 2010.
”I could not be happier to represent Team Americas and to have the jumpers in the front line,” Taylor said. He also stressed how excited he was about taking part in a team competition. It's like going back to my college days,” he said.
While this will be Taylor's first appearance in the Continental Cup, he is no stranger to the stadium in Ostrava. It was in this very place that he made his first international appearance, taking gold in the triple jump and bronze in the long jump at the World U18 Championships in 2007.
He’s been back numerous times since, including at this year's Golden Spike meeting in June when he placed third in the 400m, an event in which he competed in regularly on the circuit this year. While his primary focus this weekend will be the triple jump, where he will start as favourite, the possibility of him competing in the 4x400m mixed relay has also been raised. Taylor declined to make a confirmation.
“We want to stay ahead of the game, that's how Team Americas works,” he said.
Taylor said that it is the spectators in Ostrava that he loves most about competing in this eastern Czech city.
“The energy here is unbelievable. The people here is what makes me come back every year.” With the weekend's sellout crowd, he said, “the stadium will be rocking.”
Asked about the new format in the field events, Taylor was happy to reveal what his tactics would be.
“I spoke to our team captain (long jump world record holder Mike Powell) and his words were, 'Go for the world record in the first three attempts, and be smart and a team player in the final’.”
Ibarguen, his fellow team representative, was a bit more nervous about the prospect.
“It is going to require a lot of both physical and mental strength to compete under the new format,” she said. ”You need to be psychologically strong.”
Just like Taylor with the 400m, the Colombian has made a successful foray into less familiar athletic territory this year with her increased focus on the long jump. She will represent the Americas in both horizontal jumps in Ostrava, with high hopes of duplicating her recent double victory in the IAAF Diamond League finals.
She reveals her initial plan in the long jump was simply to qualify for the Central American and Caribbean Games, but the unexpectedly good results in the event made her stick with it. In fact, when asked what her favourite event is at the moment, she didn’t hesitate.
“The long jump makes me more excited,” she said. “It is easier technically, and I did not know the other competitors in that event previously, so it gives me a chance to meet new people.”
This will be Ibarguen's second Continental Cup appearance, after winning in 2014. Having been through the experience before, she is very much looking forward to doing it again.
“It is a completely different competition. Very few athletes have the chance to represent their continent, and I want to enjoy every moment of it.”
Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF