Christian Taylor competes at the 2019 World Athletics Championships in Doha (© Getty Images)
USA triple jump icons Willie Banks and Christian Taylor have leapt forward to voice their support for the ‘Global Conversation for the Future of Athletics’.
Compatriots Banks and Taylor stand apart as ground-breaking athletes of their events. Banks was twice ranked world No.1 in the 1980s. He missed out on almost certain medal contention at the 1980 Olympic Games, boycotted by the US Olympic Committee. But he bagged silver at the 1983 World Athletics Championships in Helsinki. He also held the men’s world record for a decade with a spectacular 17.91m at the 1985 US Championships before it was broken by Britain's Jonathan Edwards in 1995. Perhaps his greatest competitive legacy is as the pioneer of the rhythmic clap between crowds and competitor, an act that is now synonymous with both the long jump and triple jump.
Taylor, with two Olympic and four world titles, is one of the most decorated athletes in the modern era. With his gold medal-winning mark of 18.21m, he also soared to the second longest triple jump of all time at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing. Beyond their athletic abilities, both Banks and Taylor as passionate voices in the development of the sport. Taylor is president of The Athletics Association, an independent voice for elite track and field athletes.
Banks is a former chair of the Athletes Advisory Committee, 1984-1986, and now is an elected member of the World Athletics Council. He is also chair of the World Plan Working Group which is tasked with overseeing the feedback from the Global Conversation and how it will be implemented.
He told Athletics Weekly magazine: “When I was part of that Moscow 1980 boycott, it sparked a global conversation. But now we don’t want to have to go to those extremes again because it hinders athletes and stops them from participating. So in creating a plan that is tailored to the athletics community across the world, we can prevent extreme measures and keep our sport safe, inclusive and in touch with the future.”
Taylor is urging current athletes to engage with the initiative and have their voices heard. He tweeted: “Attention athletes!! Please check your emails and be sure to complete the survey. This is a great opportunity to get our voices heard.”
🗣Attention athletes‼️ Please check you emails and be sure to complete the survey. This is a great opportunity to get our voices heard. Way to go @WorldAthletics commission. There is also an Info Session coming soon. Don't miss it. pic.twitter.com/1nRbxduQ2c— Christian Taylor (@Taylored2jump) April 3, 2021
To join Taylor, Banks and others in having your voice heard, please complete the survey by the end of April.