TIGNES, France – World and Olympic champion Christian Taylor suffered a double failure on Wednesday as he attempted to break the triple-jump world record at altitude in Tignes, France.
The double Olympic and triple world champion not only failed to trouble Jonathan Edwards’s 22-year-old record of 18.29m, but he also finished second to American compatriot Will Claye.
Claye won with a modest effort of 17.42m, while 27-year-old Taylor’s jump of 16.99m was well off his personal best of 18.21m.
South African Luvo Manyonga backed up his world championship win by leaping 8.46m in the long jump, just two centimetres off what he managed in London, but well off Mike Powell’s 26-year-old record of 8.95m.
“I was a little disappointed, the wind was pushing me. But I feel that I have nine metres within me,” said Manyonga.
Competing at altitude has long been thought to give athletes, especially jumpers, an advantage. But Taylor admitted he had some difficulty adjusting to the conditions and the elevated track.
“There was a lot of talk about the world record,” he said. “At the beginning I was a little light-headed, I tried not to think about it, I tried to do everything as normal.
“I realised I needed to control my breathing, but with every run, I became a little more comfortable and also with the runway.
“I didn’t do the indoor season, so I’m really not used to elevated runaways. It’s my first time since 2013 I’ve been on a track like this.
“I’m not used to the bouncy response, I was not able to get off of it. But once I realised what I needed to do, I just started to increase, increase, increase, but it was just not far enough. Now I know for the future what to expect.”
Although the 3 000-metre altitude was expected to help in a world record attempt, strong winds made conditions difficult.
Taylor nevertheless said he “had the time of (his) life” competing against a picturesque backdrop of icy snow-covered mountains. “It was a new experience for me. The turnout was incredible, the views are incredible. I just had so much fun.”
A few days earlier at the world championships in London, Taylor won with a leap of 17.68m, with Claye second after jumping 17.63m.
The final athletics competition of the season will be the Diamond League meet in Zurich on August 23.