Christian Taylor, Olympic triple jump champion and Tokyo favorite, ruptures achilles

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<span>Photograph: Martin Divíšek/EPA</span>
Photograph: Martin Divíšek/EPA

Christian Taylor, the two-time Olympic and four-time triple jump world champion and one of American track and field’s biggest stars, will miss this summer’s Olympics after rupturing his achilles tendon only two months before the Tokyo Games are due to start, his partner said on Thursday.

Related: 100 days to the Tokyo Olympics: Twenty-five US athletes to watch

The 30-year-old from outside Atlanta, who trains full-time at the British Athletics’ national performance center in Loughborough, was injured during the Ostrava Golden Spike meet in the Czech Republic on Wednesday, Austrian hurdler Beate Schrott said in an Instagram post.

“Christian ruptured his Achilles during the competition in Ostrava yesterday. It’s heartbreaking. Really,” she wrote. “I spent quite some time trying to find the right words, but I am giving up. I don’t have words for this situation.”

She added: “I know he’ll get through this. He will fight his way back. He’ll come out of this situation not smelling like smoke.”

Schrott said Taylor had undergone surgery but did not provide details on the length of his absence. The Olympics are scheduled to begin on 23 July after being delayed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Later Thursday, Taylor’s longtime coach Rana Reider told Reuters the surgery “went well” but that he doesn’t expect Taylor to be back this year.

“It was his right achilles and a complete rupture. We got him to a surgeon in Germany and got it repaired this morning,” Reider said. “The surgery went well and they were able to repair it. It was a clean break and a clean surgery.

“He was pretty happy with it (the way the surgery went).”

Christian Taylor
Christian Taylor won his fourth triple jump world title at the 2019 world championships in Doha, Qatar. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

The charismatic Taylor won Olympic gold at London in 2012 and Rio in 2016, in addition to world titles in 2011, 2015, 2017 and 2019, despite being forced to switch his takeoff leg at the height of his powers to combat a degenerative knee issue.

He was regarded as the favorite to win a third consecutive Olympic gold – and perhaps even topple the 26-year-old world record of 18.29m held by Britain’s Jonathan Edwards that he’s targeted since high school – though not without a firm challenge from world indoor record holder Hugues-Fabrice Zango of Burkina Faso, the winner in Ostrava on Wednesday.

Only Viktor Saneyev of the former Soviet Union, who won three straight Olympic titles from 1968 to 1976, managed to achieve of 12-year run of dominance Taylor was on the brink of equalling.

Taylor’s injury opens the door for fellow American Will Claye, who finished second behind his former University of Florida teammate at the last two Olympics and the last two world championships.

USA Track & Field, the sport’s governing body in the United States, wished Taylor a speedy recovery without confirming the injury.

“Wishing back-to-back Olympic champion and four-time World champion @Taylored2jump a (speedy) recovery,” the USATF said on Twitter.