Beijing Stories: Christian Taylor and those damned 11 centimeters, by Elliott Denman


Taylor_ChristianQ-Beijing15.JPGChristian Taylor, photo by, 1/4

Taylor_ChristianQ1-Beijing15.JPGChristian Taylor, photo by, 2/4

Taylor_ChristianQ1a-Beijing15.JPGChristian Taylor, photo by 3/4

Taylor_ChristianQ1b-Beijing15.JPGChristian Taylor, photo by, 4/4

Christian Taylor had an amazing night on Thursday, August 27. He leaped 18.21 meters. However, Mr. Denman here, in one of his finest pieces EVER for my blog or pubs, pleads for another eleven centimers. Eleven? Why eleven?

Well, kind readers, read on!

The man from New Jersey knows his centimeters.

BEIJING - Christian Taylor forever lives up to his given name.
He never forgets to thank His creator for the gifts bestowed on him.
He never forgets to congratulate his opponents, whatever the result of their
clashes on the triple and long jump runways of the world.
He never forgets to say that, whatever his own results, that they were His
wish that they were written into the good book that way.
But still there comes a time and a place he could rightfully express an unholy epithet, without The Big Man Upstairs getting too angry about it.
Thursday night at the Bird's Nest Stadium, for instance.
Dammit, he knew deep within, this was the night, the sixth night of the 15th World Championships of Track and Field, that he coulda-shoulda-woulda eclipse Great Brit Jonathan Edwards' world triple jump record of 18.29 meters/ or 60 feet and a quarter-inch, that has stood as the best-ever by a mere mortal since the 1995 World Championships in Ullevi Stadium in Goteborg, Sweden.
Dammit, he knew that everything was aligned for something stupendous.
Dammit, the runway was ultra-quick, the crowd ultra-supportive, the pressure of just winning the event ultra-thick.
His best through round five was 17.68 / 58-0 ¼, solid, but dammit, it was still shaky as an eventual winner, with Pedro Pichardo of Cuba, Nelson Evora of Portugal, and USA teammate Omar Craddock capable of doing something stupendous and leaping past him in the sixth and final round.
Well, Craddock's finale was short and Evora's inspired finale of 17.52 / 57- 5 ¾ passed him to snatch away the bronze.
But, dammit, this thing still wasn't over.
Taylor was left with one last chance to widen his margin on Pichardo for the gold.
Sprinting down the runway, everything seemed to click. He knew that for sure, because there wasn't an aching muscle in his body - the usual situation when he's not at his best.
The hop was excellent - he's mastered the art of switching takeoff legs this year. The step was even better. And the jump into the Bird's Nest sandpit smooth as silk. His increments were right on the money - best ever seen since Edwards mastered the art of keeping them close to 20-20-20 (feet) apiece.
And then the numbers were posted - 18.21, best in the world for 20 years, number two on the all-time charts. And quickly converted by those clinging to the outdated imperial system to 59 feet, 9 inches.
But, dammit, they had to show Taylor's final stride onto the takeoff board up on the big screens of the Bird's Nest, didn't they? .
And they showed that, dammit, he wasn't even close to the far legal end of the board.
Dammit, the official gap - the tip of Taylor's spiked shoe to the end of the board and the start of the plasticine that is foul territory, was a full 11 centimeters.
Dammit, do the arithmetic, 18.21 plus 11 equals 18.32. The Edwards record is 18.29.
This had nothing to do with sport but Edwards, once a deeply religious man and son of a vicar, opted out of religion in 2007.
He told some people "when you think about it rationally, it does seem incredibly improbable that there is a God."
So it was likely that Edwards, now busy as a BBC commentator, was saying something like "dammit, that was close," after Christian Taylor's gold medal hop-step-jump of 18.21 was posted on the Bird's Nest results boards.
Now reportedly an atheist, he wouldn't have needed holy permission to utter a "dammit" or any other epithet of choice.
"Myself personally, it wasn't intentional (that he waited until round six to pop the 18.21) but at the same time I enjoy putting on a show," Taylor said later.
"Nonetheless, it was just getting into the moment.
"When you get into the finals, there are a lot of nerves.
"Every time I jump, every time I get on the track (or runway), it's a new opportunity.
"I open up and let it happen.
"I'm big on energy and big on feeding off others, and seeing these guys (Pichardo, et al) jump what they did, I said 'I don't want to be left behind.'
"With that one jump left, I knew I had to do something special."
But, dammit, if only he'd been specially 11 centimeters better, they'd be talking about this moment in track history forever and ever and ever.
Yup, 11 centimeters.
Eleven little centimeters.
Eleven silly centimeters,
Eleven damn centimeters.

Leave a comment

Wake up to RunBlogRun's news in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you informed about the Sport you love.

Subscribe to RunBlogRun's Global News Feed

* indicates required