Taylor targets Nationals
Two years ago, Christopher Taylor made his mark on global athletics with a 400 metres victory at the World Under-18 Championships.
Now, he is being primed for the 2017 National Senior Championships, the selection meet to the 16th World Championships in London. His coach, Calabar High's maestro, Michael Clarke, says Taylor's training is geared for him to be a factor at the Nationals.
Outlining the training plan for Taylor last Friday, Clarke said: "It is for him to compete at the National Senior Trials."
Taylor turns 18 this year and so is ineligible for the last staging of the World Under-18 Championships, so both coach and athlete have turned their attention to London.
"I don't think there are any junior meets that he can participate in, so that's what we are focusing on now."
The youngster took on his elders at the Nationals last year and missed the Olympic team by one place. Clarke says that has encouraged them this year. "Sure, sure", he concurred, "all our training at present is geared towards him being a factor in the National Senior Trials."
Taylor's camp has noted recent fast times - 44.52, 44.81 and 44.85 seconds, respectively - by Nathon Allen, Akeem Bloomfield and Demish Gaye.
"Well, he was very alarmed and seemed quite concerned as to the increase in persons running sub-45, so his question was: 'What kind of programme do you have for me now?'" Clarke stated.
However, no high-speed gear change is in the offing.
"At this stage, as you can imagine, there's nothing you can do to make any dramatic changes," Clarke said about the youth's training routine. "You don't push the panic button and change it dramatically," he said.
Having run 45.41 seconds at the Carifta Trials in March, Taylor might have accelerated at Boys and Girls' Championships, but the coach explained, "The objective was not to do anything spectacular at the championships, given that it was his first year in Class One."
The wonder boy ran far less in the high school development meets in 2017, and the reduction was deliberate.
"He had a hectic period," tabled the coach, "and I thought it best to sort of make it lighter for his own endurance."
Asked why Taylor hasn't ended his 2017 season with an eye on the 2018 World Under-20 Championships, the coach said, "That is part of a process, too. As to next year, as well as this year, he has ambitions."
He revealed that his young charge had an interest in the IAAF World Relays, but that was not pursued.
"It was too close to other meets that he had," Clarke said. "He had such a hectic season last season, I thought it best, you know, to reduce it."
The IAAF baton carnival, hosted in The Bahamas, was staged in the same April month as the Carifta Games, where Taylor won the 400 metres, and the Penn Relays, where he helped Calabar to win the 4x100m and the 4x400m.
Clarke, who is a regular member of Jamaican coaching panels to the Olympics and the World Championships, says relay hero Javon Francis of the Calabar-based Akan Track Club is still feeling the effects of a minor hamstring strain. Describing the situation as 'touch and go at the moment', he said Francis is being treated locally and has also sought help overseas.
Clarke is cautiously hopeful for Francis, national 400-metre champion in 2015 and 2016.
"He was in great shape," the coach recalled, "so let's see what happens."