DAEGU, South Korea (AP) — Christian Taylor went from newcomer in the triple jump to the world champion.
The 21-year-old American jumped a world-leading 58 feet, 11¼ inches for gold and held off defending champion Phillips Idowu, who finished with a leap of 58-3¾. American Will Claye jumped 57-5.
"This is a blessing," Taylor said. "It's been such a journey. I came to win and I am extremely happy with the results."
This was supposed to be Idowu's gold, expected to retain his title after indoor record holder Teddy Tamgho pulled out with an injury. But all he could do was watch in awe when Taylor's fourth jump put him in the lead.
"It was a great competing and I have to take my hat off to these guys," Idowu said. "This is their first time on the big stage and they came out and did business.
"It was a phenomenal jump from Christian. I've always said over the last couple of years, it only takes one jump. He nailed it today."
The surprising first and third for the United States was a perfect way to close out the field events for the Americans, who showed they will be a force at the London Olympics after Dwight Phillips defended his title in the long jump and Jesse Williams struck gold in the high jump.
"It's about time. That is what I would say," Taylor said of the American success. "The U.S. definitely represented and showed the world we are the best team. Like Phillips said, this is just a stepping stone to the Olympics."
Taylor said he and Clay now have their sights set on gold at the Olympics and breaking the longtime world record of 60-0¼ set by Jonathan Edwards of Britain in 1995.
"We compete to be the legends, to be remembered," Taylor said. "Jonathan Edward respectfully is the best. To be even in same sentence, it is an honor. Definitely, you want to be remembered and to have that world record, especially one that stuck so long would be great. It's definitely a goal."
Phillips, too, said the world record was within reach.
"The closer I can get to the 18 barrier and the world record will more likely help secure the gold medal next year," Phillips said. "There are a number of guys out there now capable of jumping over 18 meters and posting a world record. It just makes triple jump right now really exciting."
For Taylor, the win Sunday was all that more special because his father Ian was in the stands to cheer him on. A father of two who works for Delta Airlines in Georgia, Ian Taylor said the gold was a long time coming and he credited his son's recent success to a move to current coach Rana Reider.
"It was one of those things you visualize all your life and hope it materializes," Ian Taylor said. "To see it come to fruition, makes it all worth it."
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