Live wire Taylor plots course for more successFriday, August 06, 2021
TOKYO, Japan — As the eight finalists were being introduced for the men's 400m final yesterday inside the Olympic Stadium, Christopher Taylor said he smiled, because he had already achieved two of his targets: To make the final, and then run for a personal best.
At the end, he met both targets, and for that he's extremely happy, and he firmly believes he's on schedule to tick off other boxes on his way up the ladder of success.
It was a composed and mature Taylor who spent time with the media at the mixed zone reflecting on his first Olympics, and the playbook he has already authored for the immediate future.
“My thought coming into this was always to do whatever I need to do to make it to the finals. I took it round by round and if you noticed I placed third in the first round and it didn't matter [as] I just wanted to make the other round, and I know that top two from my heat would be the only chance of making the final, so I did whatever I had to do to make the top two,” he said.
After the semi-finals he said he realised that he had two days to rest and recover and his target then was to “do at least a PB and come seventh or sixth in the final”.
“I came out here determined. If you notice I was smiling from we came out because I know I had it in me and I was going to do it. It feels pretty amazing,” he said.
That's exactly what he did, although he was the youngest, least experienced and slowest in the field of eight.
He ran blindly from lane nine and executed a very good race to finish sixth in a new personal best 44.79 seconds in a race won by The Bahamas's Steven Gardiner in a season's best 43.85 seconds.
Anthony Zambrano of Colombia was second in 44.08 seconds, with Grenada's Kirani James third in 44.19 seconds.
The American pair of Michael Cherry (44.21secs) and Michael Norman (44.31secs) were fourth and fifth, respectively, with Taylor edging Botwana's aging Isaac Makwala (44.94secs) and the Netherland's Liemarvin Bonevarcia last in 45.07 seconds.
For Taylor, the plan is to head back to the proverbial “drawing board” to work on the areas he needs to improve on so that he can be on the podium in Eugene at next year's World Championships.
“I already got the speed, I just need more strength and more muscle endurance as you notice because once they [elite rivals] get to that 120 [metres], thereabouts, they start moving. They move at 250, move at 120, but because I don't have the big muscle mass like them to hold the speed endurance long, I have to hold for around my first 200, then start to build up gradually at 150 to come off the curve and then kick,” explained Taylor.
“They can move and hold for as long as they want and then go again, so once I get the muscle endurance and the muscle strength, I'll be good to go,” he promises.
He added: “Me and my coach have been talking day in, day out, about what are my expectations and I have been telling him everything I want to achieve and he said, 'you are the type of athlete once you put your mind to something you are going to train for it', so I know once I train for it and work with my coach I'm going to achieve it. So going into next season I'm going there with a billboard of achievements and I'm going to achieve them,” he reiterated.
The former Calabar High School standout used this year's Olympics “success” as a guide to his future, which gives him the faith that he'll be able to do it next year.
“In 2016 when I went to the Olympics trials in Jamaica I placed eighth running out of lane one because I was injured with a groin issue, so from then I said next Olympics I'm going to go for it, I'm going to be in the final.
“When I got lane nine it didn't matter to me. The last Olympics the world record ran out of lane nine, so I set my goal from then,” he said.
And despite all the successes at the junior level and the promising early signs of his matriculation to the senior level, Taylor says he's still not totally at ease with running his pet event.
“No, I'm not comfortable, I'm still going half, go 150, maintain, and then start building for the end because I don't want to run too fast for the first 200, so I'm trying to take my time to get used to running the 400 again because I have not [got] enough races to get back to where I was in high school when I would just go and no matter what pace I would know when to stop and when to go again.
“Once I get back to that level I'll be extraordinary again,” promised the little dynamo.
But before these Games are over, Taylor is hopeful his countrymen will give him another shot atmaking the podium when they contest the heats of the men's 4x400m relay on Friday evening here (Friday morning, Jamaica time).
The Jamaicans are drawn in lane four in heat two and will have as company, in draw order, India, Colombia, France, Belgium, Japan, Poland and Republic of South Africa.
“I am looking forward to it; I just need the guys to go out there tomorrow morning and do whatever they need to do to make it to the final and then going out there in the final is going to be blood, sweat and tears coming in the home straight.
“I am going to give it my all because I think Jamaica has a high chance of a medal in the 4x4, so the guys need to be very careful with the baton passes, try not being tripped over and get the stick around to get a spot in the final for sure,” he said.