Georgia Tech grad Angelo Taylor’s pursuit of Olympic history takes a big step Thursday, when he’ll begin qualifying for a spot on the U.S. track team in the 400-meter hurdles.
Taylor, who won gold in 2000 and again in 2008, is aiming to become the first person to win three Olympic golds in the event, surpassing Edwin Moses (1976, 1984) and Glenn Davis (1956, 1960). Taylor won in 2000 in Sydney and four years ago in Beijing.
“That’s a goal of mine,” Taylor said earlier this week. “It’s something I really, really want.”
Taylor, a three-time NCAA champion, while at Tech, glowed about his condition prior to flying to Eugene, Ore., site of the trials.
“I feel like I’m in the best shape of my life right now,” he said. “Training sessions have been going very well.”
Taylor has paid extra attention to staying injury-free, receiving regular massage and chiropractic care.
“This is an Olympic year, so this is a very important year, and one of the (crucial) things to me is not missing training, and the way you not miss training is making sure you’re not injured,” he said.
Taylor, who lives in Atlanta and trains at Emory, also made the choice to not attempt to earn a spot in the open 400, despite the fact that he would have stood a good chance of making the team in that event, also.
Said Taylor, 33, “Just looking at the history of athletes and just knowing my body and whatever, I felt like there was a time for me to double, (and) that was four years ago or eight years ago.”
Taylor said he feels his preparation level for the trials is comparable to what he felt going into the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. That was four years after legal problems and injuries put him out of the sport and onto a path where he had to keep a job as an electrician in addition to fitting in training.
And, now, a chance at history. Qualifying heats are Thursday. Semifinals are Friday. Finals are Sunday. The top three finishers will punch their tickets for London. Television coverage will be provided Thursday (9-11 p.m. EDT) and Friday (6-8 p.m.) by NBC Sports Network and Sunday on NBC (7-8 p.m.). The 400 hurdles heats are scheduled to take place in those time slots.
Taylor, No. 4 in the world and No. 2 in the U.S. this year in the 400 hurdles with a best of 48.71 seconds, will be pushed to make the team. The fastest times of the two Americans behind him are less than two tenths of a second slower than his.
Taylor is ready for the challenge.
“The times I’ve been hitting in practice, the races I’ve run so far this year are all great indicators of what kind of shape I’m in,” he said. “So I’m excited.”
Ken Sugiura, Georgia Tech blog