Olympic champion Christian Taylor falls in love with Emirates Arena
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Olympic champion Christian Taylor falls in love with Emirates Arena

Christian Taylor became Olympic champion in London last year at just 22 years of age.

And now the triple jumper from Fayetteville, Georgia, has fallen in love with Glasgow following a visit as a key member of the scottishathletics National Coaching Weekend at the Emirates Arena.

Taylor headed north with his coach Rana Reider, the American now employed by British Athletics, to help give instruction to Scottish coaches and athletes in the company of sprinter Dwain Chambers and hurdler Danielle Carruthers. And Christian loved the facilities at the Emirates Arena to the extent that he wants to return to Glasgow next winter for indoor training.

Taylor said: "I walked into the Emirates Arena and I just loved the place. I have already talked to Rana and told him I want us back here next year to prepare for the World Indoors which are taking place in Poland early in 2014. You want to compete in the best places in track and field and therefore you have to train in the best places – and this looks a pretty good place to me.

"The track feels fast and has a bit of bounce here. The warm-up area is fantastic. This is the track I want to work on and I’ve told Rana we need to come here. It is indoors, so the Scottish weather won’t be a problem! It is a beautiful arena.

"I won the Olympic title and I can’t be greedy and say I wanted anything more. It was just a wonderful moment for me and the culmination of two years of hard work – in fact even then above and beyond the expectation. You have the mindset that you want to do these things – like win gold – but for it to actually happen is brilliant.

"I shared that moment in the stadium in London with so many people. Including a very large family group. My mom (Stephanie) was wandering around Olympic Park for days on end with ‘Team Taylor’ t-shirts and sweatshirts and I think after a while she was handing them out to anyone who asked. Put it this way: by the time the Olympics were over there were people in Team Taylor who definitely were not in my family when the Games started!

"Perhaps I need to make her my marketing manager! She had bright-coloured shirts for everyone that matched my shoes. She is coming to Moscow in the summer for the World Champs as well. My dad and her are already looking at flights to Russia."

Taylor impressed Scottish coaches with his application and attitude at the Emirates – as he raked the sand pit for youngsters. In the shadow of Celtic Park, he revealed he could have been a football player after displaying talent in his teens in more than one sport.

He said: "I was a soccer player until I was 15 or 16 – the family are from the Caribbean and they love football. I was a big strapping centre-back. I could jump and I had the speed to catch someone if a long ball was hit over the top. That was my game. I was naturally talented for sport and in high school I started to get into athletics. The point came where I was getting too good at track and field to keep playing soccer. My dad said to me: ‘’You need to make a choice for college, now.’’

"Athletics came easily too me and I was making progress so, even though there were soccer offers from American colleges and universities, I chose the triple jump. That became my passion. I had played soccer, competed at cross country and played basketball when I was younger. I was a typical active kid and my parents didn’t force me into anything. It was about enjoyment at that stage and I think that is the way it should be when you are 12 to 14. There’s plenty of time after that to start getting serious."

*To read more about scottishathletics activities please check out www.scottishathletics.org.uk
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