Insights

Outside the sandbox

"I keep asking myself how will I be remembered." – Christian

Blessed to be a blessing

Having been raised in the USA’s southeast (often referred to as the Bible Belt), Christianity was always a staple in Christian’s upbringing. During his time at Our Lady of Victory Catholic Middle School, his faith and values were heavily influenced by the church. Through the ups and downs of his early sports career and adolescent challenges, his relationship with God continued to grow.

Christian quickly succeeded through the collegiate and professional ranks and found himself on top of the podium at his first Olympic Games. Unfortunately, he quickly realized that success, fame, and money didn’t bring him the fulfillment he once dreamt of. Nevertheless, the love for track and field did not dwindle.

Shortly after the 2012 season, Christian was baptized at his home church in Fayetteville, GA, and began his new journey with the Lord. As he spent extended time in Gainesville, FL, he got plugged into a local church, Alive Church, and began digging deeper into God’s word. Though his travels didn’t permit weekly attendance, he found various avenues to remain connected with the church while abroad. Over time he formed a close relationship with the lead pastors who prayed over him and continuously challenged him to grow spiritually. Pastor Ken Claytor helped him discover the importance of the platform he possessed and the ways he could use it to help others. He also encouraged him to be grateful for the chapter of life he was in, even as Christian struggled with being distant from his new church home.

Christian’s life motto is "Blessed to be a Blessing," believing that God blesses him so he will have the opportunity to bless others. This thinking connected him with community organizations such as Classroom Champions, A21, Alive Church, Revo Church, and Hillsong Church. These organizations are positively impacting the future, restoring and saving lives.

Bleeding Orange & Blue

Christian enrolled at the University of Florida in the fall of 2008. Having a passion for hospitality, he pursued a degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management. As a result of his successful junior season – during which he won NCAA titles indoors and out, along with the USATF national title – Christian halted his studies in 2011, shifting his sole focus to the pursuit of a professional track and field career. The opportunity to participate in that year’s World Championships, being held in Daegu, South Korea, presented the chance to catapult his career to the next level. This was the penultimate stage to the ultimate goal: a chance to represent the United States in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

Christian remained a die-hard Gator, and this has manifested in all areas of his life. He spread his love for the Gator Nation around the world, displaying the signature Gator Chomp at several appearances on the global stage. Nike soon identified Christian’s unique love for the Gator Nation and swiftly connected him with shoe developers who could fuse pieces of the Gator spirit with the uniqueness of his personality and story in each spike.

After winning the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, UF invited Christian to hold the Honorary Mr. Two Bits position before the highly anticipated Homecoming clash between the Florida Gators and South Carolina Gamecocks football game.

Inspired by the dream of becoming a UF Alumni, he returned to school in 2018 while continuing his professional career, he took online classes, due to the unusual travel requirements of the sport. After a few years in the professional realm, Christian decided to shift his major to Sports Management. His hard work paid off, and as of August 3, 2019, his final class and internship were completed.

It’s Great to be a Florida Gator.

The Athletics Association

At the end of 2019, World Athletics announced the new Diamond League program layout, which entailed the removal of four disciplines in the main program and a shorter broadcasting window. This was the catalyst that led Christian, along with marketing partner Jeff Freeman, to announce the formation of the Athletics Association.

The Association was an effort to correct the apparent power imbalance that has existed in the sport and help athletes realize the influence they genuinely possess. It had become the norm that the World Athletics body would make decisions, and the athletes would be left to deal with whatever decision was made. Many times these changes critically hindered performance, income, and actual coverage.

The initiative rapidly gained the attention of media, sponsors, and other sports. As this is not the first attempt of unionization of athletes in the sport, Christian believed it to be sensible to reach out to retired athletes in search of information to help him form it in the best way. Calling on their experience, and using their past endeavors as lessons, Christian hopes to grow the Association into a sustainable organization.

The Association is making significant headway and expanding daily as hundreds of athletes continue to join the effort. The date of official formalization is nearing, at which stage the Association will conduct official outreach to invite athletes to become members.

The Association wishes to gain influence in all decision-making involving the athletics body. The Association wants to remove the hierarchy sense between events and treat all members of the athletics body equally. Lastly, the Association hopes to give the next generation additional opportunities in competition, global exposure, and greater financial opportunities.

Living abroad

After winning gold at the 2012 London Olympic Games, coach Rana informed Christian that he had accepted a job with British Athletics and wished to work together in Loughborough, UK. In 2013, Christian moved away from the comforts of home and followed his coach to pastures new.

The transition was extremely difficult for Christian. It was the furthest he had lived from home and he had a tough time adapting not only to the weather but also to the new environment. He quickly bonded with British athletes James Ellington and Martyn Rooney, who helped him settle into his new surroundings. Their friendship also gave him a mental distraction from the homesickness that swiftly took over him.

Besides moving away from friends and family, 2013 was a year filled with many other challenges. Severe tendonitis in the knee and a bone spur in his toe meant this transition to a foreign training environment was not off to a good start.

In 2015, Christian was on the move once more. Rana accepted a new position with the Dutch National team and asked Christian to join him. Though this move was not closer to home, he kept an open mind and hoped this transition would be better.

Christian immediately felt much more peace in this environment, which resulted in him thriving on the track. The training center in Arnhem was unbelievably accepting of him using the facilities and remained very supportive throughout the years he was there. Christian cherished the environment, facilities, staff, friends and support he experienced while in Holland.

In 2019, Rana moved to Jacksonville, Florida, and hesitantly Christian once again followed. He had an excellent set up in Holland and feared that another move could disrupt his preparations for 2020. On the positive side, he rejoiced at the opportunity to be closer to his family.

Christian prepares for his 3rd Olympic Games in Jacksonville, Florida.

Barbados roots

Christian was born to parents (Ian and Stephanie Taylor) from the island of Barbados. They entered the US with the hope of giving him and younger sister Kaitlyn better opportunities. Though Christian was born in the US, his parents never allowed him to forget his heritage. They instilled the values of a Bajan household and helped him stay in touch with his roots. Christian would spend summers visiting family in Barbados and became very fond of Bajan music, food, and even speech.

Though Christian was not born in Barbados, the country has always extended its support for him and his sporting endeavors. In the build-up to every World Championships and Olympic Games, Christian has received tremendous encouragement. This has been matched by unbelievable compliments that have come following every success. Bajans accepted him as one of their own, and this never went unnoticed or unappreciated.

After the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, Christian went down to Barbados to share the gold medal with the people that supported him. He had the opportunity to visit banks, churches, and government offices, but his greatest joy was meeting the school kids.

Christian felt a particular pull to the schools his parents attended, as he felt uniquely connected to them.

“It´s important for me to share the medal and story with the island as I believe these successes are a shared effort. I wish to empower the youth not only by being a living example but also by personally speaking life into their dreams. Showing them that we don´t differ from each other and they too can reach their ambitions.” – Christian

Christian already plans to visit Barbados after the Tokyo Olympic Games with the hope of sharing another medal once again.