LONDON – The gold will just have to do for Christian Taylor.
The triple jump world record he desperately wanted? Maybe another time.
Silver will also have to do for Will Claye.
Beating his American teammate? Perhaps down the road.
Once again, Taylor and Claye engaged in an evening of one-upmanship in which one would take the lead only to watch the other surpass it. But once again, Taylor came out on top. Their finish at the world championships was a carbon copy of their result at the last two Olympics, including the one that took place in the same stadium as they jumped in Thursday.
These two always seem to bring out the best in each other. It’s been that way since the high school ranks.
“As annoying as it is, I’m extremely grateful for it,” joked Taylor, who attended the University of Florida with Claye. “I would not be able to push myself without him. When he’s in the final, it’s going to be a fight. I’m not going to be given anything.”
Still, Taylor’s third world title came with more than a twinge of disappointment. He wanted to break the world record of 18.29 meters set by Jonathan Edwards of Britain in 1995. Taylor felt it would’ve been fitting to accomplish the feat in Edwards’ backyard – and with Edwards in the stadium, no less. But Taylor’s best jump Thursday was 17.68 meters, while Clay went 17.63.
“I want to be the best ever,” said Taylor, whose best jump is 18.21 meters at the 2015 worlds in Beijing. “Unfortunately, every time the triple jump is announced (at a stadium) with the world record it’s going to be Jonathan. That does hurt me a little bit.
“But I hope the viewers abroad were happy with the competition, because we’re entertainers at the end of the day.”
And good friends. So if Claye can’t win, he roots for Taylor – and vice versa.
“If you have a brother, it’s that type of rivalry,” said Claye, who also earned a bronze medal in the long jump at the 2012 London Games. “You don’t want to lose to your brother. It’s very competitive. At the same time, you love him and no one likes to lose.”
Of course, losing doesn’t always mean playing second fiddle.
Although Claye finished with the silver at the Olympics in Brazil last year, he found the spotlight by jumping into the stands and asking his girlfriend, hurdler Queen Harrison, to marry him . He even carried the diamond ring to the track in his backpack.
They will tie the knot next May. The honeymoon could be somewhere in the Caribbean.
“A nice beach to get away and relax,” said Claye, a burgeoning musician who recently put out an album. “There have been a lot of track meets in the islands that want to give us as an appearance fee a honeymoon stay before the meet. We might do that.”
But first, there are more competitions to attend and more chances to break that elusive world record. Taylor and Claye said they’re going to an event in the mountains of France next week to chase the mark. They’ll be at high altitude, and will try to push each other to new heights.
“It may have an asterisk,” Claye said. “But, hey, I’ll take it.”
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