Photo: Christopher Taylor (left) leans at the line to stop the clock at 20.49 to finish first in the Men's 200m at the Jamaica International Invitational Meet at the National Stadium on Saturday. LaShawn Merritt (centre) finished second in 20.70 and Alex Wilson of Switzerland (right) finished sixth in 20.95.
Say the name Christopher Taylor and the average Jamaican gets excited. So fantastic has been this prodigious talent on the local and international stage among his peers over the last few years that even as a schoolboy, he is already a household name in the country.
Based on his performance at the Jamaica International Invitational Meet (JIIM) inside the National Stadium in Kingston on Saturday night, it appears that the 18 year old is just about ready to fulfill his vast potential at the senior level as well.
A late entry to the Men’s 200m field when his name was added late last week, the Calabar High student destroyed the field that included American World and Olympic 400m champion, LaShawn Merritt and World Championship 200m bronze medalist from 2015, Anaso Jobadwana of South Africa
Running out of lane 7, Taylor had the entire field behind him and that is where they stayed for the 20.49 seconds that it took him to get across the tape in first place. Out of his blocks in a flash, the Jamaican starlet was off the turn quickly but had to contend with the hard running Jobadwana in lane four who threatened to spoil the teenager’s show for a moment before Taylor pulled away with about 60m to go.
Merritt had a late burst to close the gap in the final few meters but it was never going to be enough as he had to settle for second place behind Taylor. Both he and Jobadwana who finished third were timed in 20.70.
It was a big run and few big scalps for the young Jamaican who has definitely caused the world to stand up and take notice.
“It is a motivation for me going forward knowing that I am just 18 and I was entered against the big boys and I came out victorious, it’s just motivation for me going into World Juniors.,” Taylor told reporters after the race.
When quizzed about the challenge of running in an outer lane, he revealed that it was upon request that lane 7 was given.
“It wasn’t difficult running from lane 7. I asked coach if he could get me lane 7 so I wouldn’t have much on the curve to run and I came out here and executed.”
The time he ran was some way off his personal best of 20.35 but Taylor was pleased based on the conditions.
“I am not disappointed (with the time), the rain was falling earlier today so I just came out here and execute and I did my best,” he said.
Fans have yet to see Taylor run a competitive 400m this season but he was quick to allay the fears of those who are concerned.
“I still love the 400m, it is just because certain things are happening over the past few months in training, so I have been running mostly 200m this year and also for the speed development,” he revealed.”
With the World Junior Championships on the horizon, Taylor already has a game plan for gold in Tapmere, Finland.
“At the World Juniors it’s just to go out there and execute a perfect race throughout the rounds and in the final give it my all.”
Whether or not he will be doing the 200m/400m double in July is still up in the air.
“I haven’t decided yet, coach and I are still deciding,” he stated.
Merritt who was obviously aware of the talent that Taylor possesses, was gracious in defeat.
“He is a great competitor, I have seen him run some 4’s, I knew he was ready to come run the 200m, with the home crowd, primed and in season…I congratulate him,” said Merritt.
Taylor will lead a strong team of Jamaican hopefuls to the World Junior Championships in Tampere, Finland later this year, from July 19-24th.