'It's redemption times,' says Taylor

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

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TAMPERE, Finland — Jamaica's top all-round junior male sprinter of all times, Christopher Taylor, says he has unfinished business to take care of at the IAAF World Under-20 Championships after coming up short two years ago in Poland.

Taylor won the 400m at the IAAF World Under-18 in Cali, Colombia, in 2015, and was expected to at least get a place on the podium a year later in Bydgoszcz, Poland, but failed to get past the semi-finals, finishing ninth overall, and missing the final by one spot.

Come this week, in the prime of his career coming off back to back record runs, he plans to atone and told journalists at the IAAF opening press conference, held on the track at the Tampere Stadium yesterday, “It's redemption time.”

Taylor broke his silence after arriving in the Scandinavian city last weekend and said he is excited and motivated and will win whichever event he is down to contest.

The Calabar High student is unbeaten all year against juniors and seniors and established himself as one of the very best juniors ever produced by Jamaica, equalling Yohan Blake's National Junior Record in the 100m when he ran 10.11 seconds two weeks ago. A week earlier at the JAAA National Championships, he won the 400m in a new NJR 44.88 seconds and earlier in the year he had run a personal best 20.35 seconds, second best only to World Junior Record holder Usain Bolt.

He will not be running all three or even doubling for much longer, he said, as when he goes professional he said he would have to make a decision which event he will focus on.

Taylor suggested that he was planning to run another event, the 200m, here but told the Jamaica Observer, “I did not choose to run the 400, but it doesn't matter which event I run, this is a decision that my country has made, so I am just going out there to represent to the best of my abilities.”

Taylor also said earlier in the season he was focused on another event, “But things happened and I just have to go with it.”

Whichever event he is down to contest, Taylor said he was planning to come out on top. “I am very motivated, and once I put my mind to anything I always succeed, that is what I have been working on all season to come here and win.”

Two years ago he said he was nursing injuries and “was not focused, but this year for me has been different, it was planned out step by step with this week in mind”.

Asked by the Observer whether he can run faster than 44.88 seconds in the one lap race, Taylor said. “Knowing me I don't pressure myself too much, I just go out there and run to the best of my abilities.”

He admitted he did get excited before major competitions such as this. “Yes, I do get excited when it comes to competition and to represent my country; it brings out the best in me.”

With a solid crop of 400m runners here in Tampere, Jamaica could break the United States' stranglehold on the men's 4x400m. “Once we are focused, and if we get the first three legs good, we will have the chance to win,” he said.

As he does with the Calabar High team, Taylor would be on the anchor leg of this mile relay team and in his current form it would be foolhardy to bet against him being beaten by any junior in the world with the stick in his hand and a gold medal awaiting him on the finish line.

— Paul Reid

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