All smiles for USA opposite spiker Kelly Murphy and her Olympic triple jump champion boyfriend Christian Taylor
Verona, Italy, September 24, 2014 – He is an Olympic champion, but sitting in the stands at PalaOlimpia in Verona he said he is just “a fan.”
Christian Taylor, triple jump gold medallist at the London 2012 Olympic Games and world champion in 2011, has travelled to Italy to follow his girlfriend, Kelly Murphy, during her first week of competition at the FIVB Women’s World Championship Italy 2014.
“I’m her number one fan and I take pride in that,” he said while watching her play against Kazakhstan on Wednesday, when USA got their second victory.
“I follow her mostly online because we live in two different countries. I’m in England, she’s in California or wherever the sport takes her.”
The two met in 2009 while studying at the University of Florida, where she was playing volleyball and he was a track runner. Since then, they have been supporting each other in their sports careers.
“She went to the Olympics with me when I was in London, so that was very big. It was great we could share that moment together. It’s like teammates, we have that partnership and we are best friends at the end of the day, so it’s good for me,” the USA jumper said.
“She’s my best friend, so if I’m stressed or nervous I can sit back and talk to her. Relationships are great, but for me it’s great that I can talk to her as a friend and I think what we have is really good. I’m fortunate and the lucky one.”
A good mix of temperaments is the key to their bonding, Taylor said.
“I get excited very quickly with too many espressos and such and she’s like ‘calm down, calm down’. She’s always relaxed and I’m like ‘wake up, wake up’. So I think that we work well together and it’s like our yin and our yang.”
Seeing Murphy play at the World Championship is being exciting for the Olympic champion.
“I’m just here for this first week. I didn’t think it would be this much fun and it’s the biggest stage I’ve seen her play on. Every time I come through the doors I get chills – it’s really exciting for me. It’s so different to track. I’ve seen her grow throughout and it’s something I’m really proud of. To see the USA perform anywhere it’s really cool for me.”
Taylor knows volleyball and triple jump require differing mindsets.
“I have six different jumps so I run one lap and get instant results," he explained. "They can be out here for a long time and get no results so it’s a different mentality.”
There is advice that he can share with Murphy when they are together.
“I tell her when you get to the World Championship or Olympic Games just to enjoy the moment. Take your time to sit back and say ‘this is what you work for’.”
About his girlfriend, the championes said "she does play very well. With some people, if they do a bad play it lingers, whereas she brushes herself off and gets on with it and that’s really good. It’s very important because it’s a team sport and you don’t want to bring the team down with you.”
In Verona he is just cheering for his girlfriend, but Taylor has set high goals for himself in the near future.
“My goal is the world record. I’ve been jumping really well this year so why not at the world championships? The record was set there so it’s only right I try to do the same."
“The Olympics is coming up in two years and we have the world championships in Beijing next year so this is getting my mind ready for that. Right now I get to be a fan and that’s very important for me.”