Li-Ning USA Focus: Christian Taylor, courtesy of Li-Ning USA

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Christian Taylor, Photo by PhotoRun.net


Quick question. Have you heard of Li-Ning? You may remember  a Chinese  gymnast, the first Chinese athlete to win Olympic medals way back in 1984. Li-Ning became a huge hero in China with his six gymnastic medals in the LA Olympics. Or, perhaps you remember that the same famous Chinese gymnast who flew around the famous Bird's Nest stadium during the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremonies. Or, perhaps, if you are a sneaker geek, you might know that Li-Ning is the largest Chinese owned sports footwear and apparel company in existence.

"In fact, all are correct.. Li Ning is not just a former Olympic champion. He also owns the largest sports footwear and apparel brand in China. My job, is to make Americans aware of the next big brand from China-Li-Ning." noted Craig Heisner,  VP of marketing for Digital Li-Ning USA.


Focusing on footwear and apparel in basketball, running and women's fitness, Digital Li-Ning USA, is launching its brand quietly across the country on a digital platform. "We are very focused with our market entry strategy and aware of the pitfalls that exist if you aren't smart about introducing a brand to a new, and highly competitive, marketplace. Digital communication, grassroots events, and product reviews play an important part in that introduction. Our site is easy to maneuver, and we are getting strong reviews of our products," noted Heisner. "Runningnetwork.com's Cregg Weinmann reviewed our Liede model in the Spring 2012 shoe review. Just being reviewed is a recommendation, as The RunningNetwork reviews a limited number of top brands each review period."

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As the Li-Ning  brand has looked globally, they have developed a series of sports marketing  sponsorships that open many a sports fan's eyes. In Track & Field, the most popular of the Summer Olympic sports, Li-Ning has signed some of the most important athletes in the sport: Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva, world record holder in the pole vault, having broken that record  27 times, as well as multiple world and Olympic champ. Jamaica's Asafa Powell, two time world record holder in 100 meters (9.77 and 9.74, holding record from June 2005 to May 2008), Olympic gold (4x 100M), WC bronze (100m) and gold (4x100m) medalist and 2006 Commonwealth gold medalists and a man who has run under ten seconds for the 100 meters 76 times. Norway's Andreas Thorkildsen, World champion, Olympic. Medalist at the javelin, who can throw the javelin from one end of a football field to the other!

In the US, Li-Ning chose, as its ambassador, Christian Taylor, 2011 World Champ at the triple jump, 2012 World indoor silver medalist. 


Christian Taylor is the current world record champion in the triple jump. In a brilliant display of athleticism, Christian Taylor dueled the former World Champion, Phillips Idowu of Great Britain, and his team mate, Will Claye, in Daegu, Korea last summer. Thriving on competition, Christian Taylor won the World Championships in his first appearance on the World Championship stage.

Christian Taylor was a very good athlete in high school, but, it was in college, where he showed his tremendous talent, jumping both the long jump and the triple jump and showing the crowds at the NCAA championships that he meant business.

It was only two weeks before the World Championships that Christian Taylor made the world take notice of his new world stature. He defeated Phillips Idowu at the Aviva London Grand Prix, the last major meeting before the Daegu World Championships.

Christian Taylor is a great competitor. This skill is as important on the world stage as is his prowess at the triple jump. At the age of 21, Christian has a long career ahead of him, and his athleticism inspires his fans.

This will be Christian's first Olympic Trials, and while he is seasoned at competition in Eugene, Oregon, he appreciates the pressure of an Olympic Trials.

With the Olympic Trials, Christian Taylor, who not unlike Li-Ning, is new on the Olympic scene as one of the favorites in the triple jump. "One of the great things about Li-Ning is it is new to the American market. The folks at Li-Ning are very flexible. Their new product is exciting. I really hope Americans try Li-Ning. I love my new Li-Nings! "  noted Christian Taylor.

Most recently, Christian Taylor won the Nike Prefontaine Classic on June 1, with a world leading jump of 17.62 meters,  or 57-9 1/2, on his second jump. Taylor finished second in Oslo on June 7, with a jump of 17.06 meters, or 56-5.

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Christian Taylor, 2012 Prefontaine Classic, Photo by PhotoRun.net


The following interview took place on Saturday, June 2:

1. Tell us about the meet ?

Christian: I love to compete in Eugene. The crowd was even more into it than last year. People came up to me in town and hugged me after the meet, I love Eugene. The crowd understands track & field and they really clap along with the competitors. I get very psyched up when I compete in Eugene. The atmosphere just makes you want to jump farther!

2. You started out at 17.38 meters?

Christian:  I had fouling trouble in Shanghai.  Coach told me to get a mark. When you get a mark (a legal jump), you then can relax and really have fun. When I hit 17.38m, then Coach said, have some fun. Then, I hit 17.62m and it felt great.  I thought I could go farther than that, but just not today.

3. How did you get into the triple jump?

Christian: My favorite sport in high school was soccer. But, I played a lot of sports. As I started thinging about colleges, I looked at the jumps.

My Dad was challenging me, and I wanted to get a scholarship, and we noticed that schools wanted kids who do several things. In college,I ran relays, and did the long jump and triple jump.

4. You noted that you and Coach Rainer work well together?

Christian: Coach and I get along as we are students of the sport. We work on technique, we try something different everyday. That keeps it special and open. I watch videos on all the greats, and I will show up each day, trying something I saw the night before on You Tube.

Coach encourages me to try new things. He works on my technique with me and reminds me about what happened at the most recent competition.

 5. What was worst thing you did when you started triple jumping?

Christian: I jumped too much in high school. I would literally jump all over the house, and all the time. I drove my parents crazy. I just enjoyed the act of jumping, so I would do it constantly. It was fun, it was a good thing, but I just did it a little too much, and was
not focused on getting better.

7. What are the emotions going into this Olympic journey?

Christian: If you wear the USA uniform, you are competing for your country. That is the change, once you get that uniform. You work hard to get that uniform and then you know, you are jumping for your country. That is a huge deal for me.

8. Tell us about Li-Ning ?

Christian: The Li-Ning brand is new to the US. I am fascinated about China, and I am happy to be with the next big brand coming out of China. The shoes that they have made for me are amazing. And we are working on some new shoes that I am very excited about.

Because it is new in the US, we can be flexible. Li-NIng me feel comfortable, and when you are comfortable, you jump better.

I really encourage Americans to try a pair of Li-Nings. The shoes are well made, and its pretty cool to try something new.

9. Have you met Mr. Li-Ning?

Christian: Yes, I met Mr. Li-Ning once. He was amazing. It was mind blowing. He was very thoughtful and made me feel very comfortable representing his brand.

For me, it was like meeting Jonathan Edwards, the triple jump world record holder, if I ever got to meet him.
 
11. What do you think of modern China?

Christian: Wow, where do I start? When I think of China, I see a country with great advancements and exciting changes. My time in China was short, but the people were great to me. I would be stopped in the street when they saw the Li-Ning jacket I had. People would come up and ask me questions about Li-Ning and many would ask to take pictures. I loved shopping in China too! I had a blast doing that. When I think of China, I see them as so advanced.

The food surprised me, as it is so different  fromChinese food in the US. Food in China is very fresh, and I liked it. It was fun trying things different from the US.

12. What kind of music do you like?

Christian: I love music, I have very different musical tastes. I listen to reggae when I warm up, hip hop during competition, and country afterwards.
 
13. Does Coach travel with you?

Christian: Yes, always. Even in college, Coach and I would have lunch together. We have our signals, and we talk on the track, with him in the stands. I like him there. I like having him at the meet as it allows me to relax and focus on my event. We learn between the competitions, and that is key.

14. What is training like?

Christian: I am on the track for six hours a day. I try and take my time with a long warm up,  as I am not that flexible. We try different things everyday. I do not want to get stale. Coach will have me do various warm ups, which takes a long time, and then, we will try jumping in various forms, and it keeps me fresh and excited about my jumping. I spend a lot of time working on my flexibility, which is key in jumping, and my endurance,
which is very important with the very long season.

15. Tell us about your partnership with Li-Ning?

Christian:  I am fortunate working with Li-Ning. They want to help me jump as far as I can, and they took a lot of time helping me develop my triple jump shoes. I really like them. In jumping in my present shoes, I learnt things that could make them better. When I spoke to the Li-Ning team, they were there.

They really listened to me on my triple jump shoes. We are doing some revisions now, and soon, I will have even better shoes. I like their flexibility and their interest. Perhaps it is their short time in the US market, but they are making a huge effort.

It is one of the reasons why I think they will do well in the U.S. Their ability to innovate, and to produce product that is great for the US, will be one of their reasons for their success.

With Li-Ning, you have a sports footwear company with Chinese culture. You have the lightness, the flexibility and the body consciousness. All three of those concepts come out in Li-Ning shoes.

16. How important is the gold medal  in London?

Christian: For me to leave a statement with my career, I need to win an Olympic medal. I want the Olympic gold medal. This is very important to me and to the fans who follow me.

I have watched Olympics on TV. I have dreamt of going to an Olympics. I am focused on the Olympic Trials, which is where I have to make the Olympic team. It will be my first Olympic Trials, but I am ready, and I am looking forward to the competition.

I am not jumping for myself when I put on the USA uniform, I am jumping for my country.  Coach asks me each day, what do I want my legacy to be? I want to win the gold medal. I won one in Daegu. I want the gold medal in London.
 
17. How long will we see you around?

Christian: I am only 21. If God is willing, and if my Coach is interested, and my sponsor, Li-Ning is supportive, I could jump six to ten more years. I love triple jumping!


"I really hope Americans try Li-Ning. I love my new Li-Nings!"
~Christian Taylor


Li-Ning is a new brand in the US. They would love you to try their shoes. With the discount button links here on this page, you can get fifty percent off the retail price on their newest running shoes, the Liedes. Try the biggest brand you've never heard of. Run in them, and watch Christian Taylor on his journey to London to win the gold medal in the triple jump.

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