LONDON -- The triple jump isn't an event that's going to attract a lot of attention in the United States, even in an Olympic year. Christian Taylor can change that in one night.
Even on a team of social media-engaged extroverts that includes hurdler Jason Richardson and defending champion Dawn Harper, Taylor is out there all by himself, but completely charming in the process. Talking about how he feels going into the London Olympics during a media availability here, Taylor said Tuesday, "I'm trying to be that star, that crowd-pleaser, that Chris Brown, Michael Jackson ... that star that everybody talks about in the end."
Taylor is a Florida Gator, a football-loving, Tim Tebow-supporting 22-year-old who already has the season opener at Florida Field (against Bowling Green) circled on his calendar. But he's a whole lot more than that, some of it surprising. Born in Fayetteville, Ga., to Barbadian parents, Taylor is a country music fan.
"Lady Antebellum ... Keith Urban," he said when asked for his favorite country artists. "Between qualifying and the finals, I listen to country," Taylor said. "It helps me sleep. I don't know, maybe it's a like a lullaby for a grown man."
Taylor, who won back-to-back NCAA indoor championships before consecutive outdoor championships at Florida, isn't interested in the theory that at 22 he's too much of a neophyte to become an Olympic champion just yet. "I'm here to win," Taylor said, managing the sentence without anything approaching arrogance. "I'm trying to be the young cat out there who brings it back."
Taylor was an accomplished sprinter in high school, but knew even then he "loved the feeling of flight" he felt when leaping off "couches, off stairs ... I learned that gravity is not your friend."
And so, he went to the triple jump. Why? Boredom.
"The long jump ... not too many variables to it." So to learn the triple jump: "I went to YouTube ... and how to DVDs. That was my film session."