Track and field athlete Christian Taylor has traveled around the globe, and has felt God’s hand of blessing upon him. His back-to-back Olympic Gold Medals in the triple jump heightened his world-class status, first clinching the title in London in 2012 before repeating at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janiero. In between, he won the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. Taylor, who resides and trains in England, is a true testimony to small-town dreams with big commitment.
A ten-time All-American at the University of Florida, Taylor grew up in Fayetteville, Ga., where he was surrounded with family who loved the Lord and lived it out daily. A relationship with God was second nature, engrained in his DNA like the sport he loved. While many flailed about in the murky grounds of adolescence, Taylor flourished both in his faith with his youth group friends, and on the track amassing numerous state records and awards while competing at Sandy Creek High School.
As Taylor began to travel on the national and international stage, he learned of FCA and got connected with various prayer and Bible study groups on the road.
While traveling for competitions, Taylor and other international athletes will often use a meeting room in the lobby of their hotel for prayer time.
“When you’re in a group, you feel empowered,” he said. “I always have the feeling that I’m never alone, but when you have two, three—sometimes ten believers around you—it brings a new energy to my life.”
At the 2012 Olympics in London, Taylor earned his first gold in epic fashion. He fouled his first two attempts, yet managed to fight back and secure a spot in the finals, where his jump of 17.81 meters earned him the gold.
“To me it’s very simple: what I put in is what I get out.”
Four years later in Rio, Taylor collected another gold. That one, he says, is God’s little astonishment.
“You truly never know what He’s up to, what He has in store, or even how He’s going to use you,” he said
The time following Rio was a whirlwind with interviews and travel, but were also some of Taylor’s most rewarding. He’s especially fond of school visits.
Through halls and excited chatter of students, Taylor remembers his time as a young student-athlete, and the hope for all that lay ahead.
“Any time you go down the hallways and see the playground, there are those flashbacks and good memories,” Taylor said.
To go from the top of the podium to a middle school auditorium is quite a difference, but the youthful environment gives him a deeper appreciation of his journey.
“I represent them, this beautiful nation—this isn’t for me,” said Taylor.
He lets kids hold and handle his medal and watch the amazement on their faces.
“They go, ‘Wow, feel the weight—that’s real gold!’ That’s when it sinks in—to see their faces light up, that’s when I really get goosebumps,” he said.
Taylor has experienced firsthand that nothing worth celebrating comes easy, and advises not to be afraid of hard work.
“Anything that you truly want—it’s not going to be given,” he said. “To me it’s very simple: what I put in is what I get out.”
God has poised Taylor with a platform that he doesn’t take for granted, or want to utilize for anything less than God’s glory, both in the limelight and the lows.
“That’s life, you know?” he said. “Things don’t always go the way I want—I don’t win every competition—but I think, ‘Ok, what has God put me in this situation for? Why is this happening to me?’”
Gold medal or not, Taylor’s quick to acknowledge God and keep a humble spirit, deciding in all things, to keep Him first and trust in His goodness.
“That’s changed my life,” said Taylor. “I’ve said, “Lord, I don’t know what You’re doing, but I trust it and I have faith that whatever You do, it’s never going to be too much for me or something I can’t handle.”
Take the good with the bad, turn breaking point into a positive. For Taylor, it’s all in a shift of perspective and gratitude for faith unseen.
He had dreams, goals and steps to accomplish them, but Olympic reality surpassed expectation.
“It’s been more than I could even imagine, and that’s been very special.” -FCA-
Photo Credit: © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports