In August 1995, at the World Champs in Goteborg, Jonathan Edwards put the triple jump into the stratosphere, with his 18.29 meters, being the first man to jump over sixty feet! In that competition, Edwards broke the world record twice!
It was my first World Championships and that world record was amazing. Jonathan Edwards was both competitor and viewer. He was not sure that it had happened. And then, when he did it again, both he and the crowd gasped.
It was truly something special.
The triple jump in Beijing will be remembered by many as a similar night.
Pedro Pichardo, he of the 18.08 meter leap, started the final off with a 17.52 meters, to get things going. Christian Taylor opened with 16.85 meters.
In the second round, Pichardo leaped 17. 44 meters and Christian Taylor countered with 17.49 meters.
Then, it got weird.
Pedro Pichardo increased his lead with a 17.60 meter jump. And Christian Taylor countered, with another 17.60 meter leap! They were tied.
In the next round, the wily Cuban leaped 17.33 meters, and the wily American leaped 17.68 meters, taking the lead for the first time.
In round five, Taylor leaped 17. 22 meters and Pedroso responded with 17.52 meters. Omar Craddock moved into third with his 17.37 meter leap in the fifth attempt.
In the final round, Nelson Evora of Portugal put it together and moved into the bronze medal position, pushing Craddock back, with Evora's 17.52 meter.
Then, it happened.
In that moment, where perfect timing comes to play, Christian Taylor did it all right, each portion of his jump was better than before, he still had some room before the plasticine, and BOOM!
We knew it was big, really big.
So did Christian Taylor. I am not sure that he recognized actually how far he had gone.
It then came up, 18.21 meters! 59 feet, 9 inches!
Christian Taylor had just leaped the second longest jump in history!
His world leader also made him the American record holder, breaking the 1996 record of Kenny Harrison of 18.09m, the Olympic gold medalist from Atlanta.
Christian Taylor waited for Pedro Pichardo to jump.
Pichardo, to his credit, responded with a longer jump, 17.73m, but that was not going to challenge Christian Taylor.
This was Christian Taylor's night. Rana Reider, Christian's coach, came over and gave him an embrace. It was nice to see that. Christian and Rana have been very close for a long time. Martyn Rooney, British 400m runner and Euro champion, told me recently that Christian Taylor is the hardest workout performer that he had ever seen. He also noted that a big jump was just a matter of time.
After I missed Christians' former PB of 18.06m, Taylor sent me a tweet that it was okay, as there would be longer jumps.
And, Christian Taylor was right.
Eighteen meters, twenty-one centimeters!
And, in the sixth jump!