Posts tagged "USA Track and Field"
By Charlie Akers | BSU at the Games
Triple jumper Christian Taylor didn’t learn his Olympic sport in a traditional way. After doing the long jump until he was 15 years old, he decided to find a new sport in a non-traditional way – through YouTube.
“I got on YouTube and talked to my coach about it and he said maybe you should try this out,” Taylor said.
Taylor began studying the YouTube videos because he became bored with the simple running and jumping of the long jump he said. After his coach said yes, he prowled the internet video site and ordered some DVDs to help him master his new sport. He watched the greats of time and made notes of what they were doing to help him become the Olympian he is today.
When Taylor first started watching videos on YouTube one of the athletes he watched was Great Britain triple jumper Phillips Idowu. The two of them are now rivals competing against each other. Phillips has withdrawn from the past few meetings due to injury but is competing in the Olympics.
Before Taylor became an Olympian he created Georgia high school records in long jump, triple jump and the 400m he still holds. At the University of Florida, where he attended for three years, he was a 10-time All American and won eight SEC championships.
Then, Taylor won the 2011 gold medal in the triple jump at the World Outdoor competition.
“Last year, I was the underdog. It took one jump, and I went from the last person into the finals to the winner,” Taylor said. “I’m confident, and hopefully I will be in the finals. I’m going for the gold.”
Even with the young age of all the jumpers, Team USA men’s coach Andrew Valmon has faith in them.
“They are students of the sport. To be a student is to be successful,” Valmon said.
Despite Taylor being the current World Champion he is not taking anything for granted and is working hard for gold. He trained through hot weather, cold weather and rain. According to Taylor he is ready for anything.
“I’m going jump by jump. My main focus is the qualifying rounds,” Taylor said. “I’m trying to be the young cat that brings it back.”
The USA has not had an Olympic medal in triple jump since Kenny Harrison in 1996. Now, seven years after watching his first YouTube clip, Taylor is hoping to win one in his first Olympic appearance.
Charlie Akers is a sophomore telecommunications and journalism major at Ball State University covering sports for BSU at the Games. Follow Charlie and the BSU team at @the8thKing,@bsuatthegames and www.facebook.com/bsuatthegames.
By Alex Kartman | BSU at the Games
The sounds of children laughing and screaming for joy usually echo throughout playgrounds at recess.
However earlier last week, those joyful noises flooded the USA Track and Field team’s training grounds in Birmingham, England, as thousands of local primary school children flocked to a local field day with the athletes.
Children and some of the world’s elite athletes played sports ranging from lawn tennis, javelin, soccer and boxing.
Three Olympians – Craig Kinsley (javelin), Jarred Rome (discus) and Lance Brooks (discus) – joined Birmingham primary school children, playing games while also signing autographs.
“I think it’s a really good opportunity for the kids to get out and meet other kids and just be active,” Brooks said. “That’s a big part of growing up. It’s fun to see their faces as you walk around and participate with them.
“They don’t really know what do at first. Then you play with them a little bit and it’s like I’m a cool kid. A big little kid.”
Kinsley participated in several English sports before he found familiarity in the form of his native Olympic sport – the javelin.
“I see people throwing foam javelins and I knew I was in my comfort zone,” Kinsley said. “It was a good time. We had a good little competition.”
One might expect the athletes to be in the heat of their actual training, but fun and games have their place.
As hundreds of U.S. athletes arrive into the United Kingdom, it sometimes takes days to adjust to the new time zone. Most athletes battle jet lag before returning to normal routines, making activities around the community great transitional events into the Olympic Games.
“You’re going to be about a week in before you get back into your routine,” Brooks said. “That’s why we come over so early so we can have fun, do stuff like this, see the locals, and interact with everybody.”
According to Kinsley the relationship between Olympians and communities around England are mutual.
“Great Britain is appreciating me significantly more than I have ever been appreciated, so this is unbelievable. They really know their track and field, and they’ve been incredibly hospitable.”
The entire country’s appreciation shined through the smiles of the school children.
“We come out here and actually get to be appreciated by a bunch of kids,” Kinsley said. “Hopefully they are enjoying the experience as well.”
By early next week, the laughs and the chants of children will fade, but these Olympians soak in every moment England provides.
“It’s natural,” USA Track and Field assistant coach Tom Pukstys said. “What you’re seeing is natural from our guys. They’re really enjoying it. I think it’s imperative that they to come over with that mindset. They are grateful to be Olympians, but these moments keep you in touch with the community and ground you to make you understand how special it is to be an Olympian.”
Events in track and field are slated to begin August 3 at Olympic Park in London.