Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken
Alastair Aitken's
Interviews and
Reports

Angelo Taylor - August 2010

ANGELO TAYLOR  won the 400m hurdles in the Olympics of 2000 and 2008 and only Edwin Moses (76-84) has managed that with such a space in between his two wins. The only other person to win twice was Glen Davis of the USA in 1956 and 1960 so, that makes Taylor something special in Olympic History.
   He hopes to make the Olympics in London in 2012 and achieve a third victory which has never been done before.
   International 800 metre runner Michael Rimmer said to me recently about Angelo Taylor ' He is a man for the Big occasion' so, we will wait and see and hope it all turns out well for the man from Decatur, Atlanta, USA.
    For many years I have really wanted to talk to Angelo Taylor because I had other good interviews with 400m Olympic Champions Rex Cawley (USA' 64), David Hemery before after and at the Olympics of 1968, John Akii-Bua and his coach Malcolm Arnold (1972), Edwin Moses & his coach LLoyd Jackson (76-84 winner) and Felix Sanchez the victor in 2004.I did that in 2009.
   The amazing thing about Angelo is that he had a rocky path between his two Olympic wins' with his Nike Sponsors withdrew his sponsorship at one stage and then having to work hard as an electrician while he still did his athletics as a World Class athlete. One man with great religious faith, Coach  Innocent Egbunike (Who still holds the Commonwealth Record for the 400 flat of 44.17 that he did in 1987)- took Angelo under his wing and advised him but Angelo Taylor still had to contend with the fact that his 4x400 American team, that would have got medals in the World Championships of 1999 and 2001, were disqualified and that was no fault of his and nothing he could do about it.
   He is listed on the USATF website as being coached by Loren Segrave but the one who had been very special to him was Innocent Egbunike " He helped me out a whole lot.I was already a hurdler when I met him but the thing was we had a great relationship on and off the track. You need that second eye. It was a  team thing. He certainly was one of my special coaches"
   His parents were a great help in his years growing up because they both had been runners
   " They were supportive. My Father Angelo played  American football (Albany State, Georgia)--He also ran track so, growing up I would see his trophies, newpapaper clippings so, I kind of knew already it was in me."
   His younger brother Corey was or is a promising 110 hurdler. Something else to do with his family life is that he likes to take his very young twin sons Xavier and Isaiah down to the track at times.

I WAS LAST

Angelo Taylor was born at Albany, Georgia on the 29th of December 1978
   One tends to think such a really great runner, who used to be distinguishable, at 21 at the 2000 Olympics by  his braded hair and relaxed disposition, could never have done badly as a racer. Not so!.
   " My memories of when I first started are not good memories. I started running and racing a 12. I was small and frail (He is now 6' 2 and 185lbs)-Most of the kids of my age group in my grade were much bigger than me. When I started running I had a lot of last placed finishes.!'
What then was the key to him feeling he could improve on that position?
  " When I first started competing track and field, as I say, I was last but before then I was always to he fastest out of my class. I was going through my puberty stage. I always loved sport and to compete so I stuck with it.'  
' I started to feel I could do well in 10th grade at 14 then, everything started coming together.'
   He continued ' In 1996 the Olympics came to my backyard in Atlanta Georgia which was definitely inspirational. That experience of the World coming to take part in the Olympics'
   ' At the time I was in my senior year in High School (Southwest De Kalb, High School before going on the Georgia Technical University)--I was competing at a high level and made the World Junior Team for the 400 hurdles (Bronze in 50.18). I started to look at Track & Field News magazine and being really aware of what was going on in the track World.'  
      Did he see anybody in the 400 hurdles that inspired him when he really started to move into the event then?
   ' Of course, The 'Great' Edwin Moses. I remember watching Kevin Young break the World record at the 400 hurdles''
   In 1998, as a nineteen year old, he had the fastest time ever recorded for that age with 47.9 for the 400 hurdles which motivated him further.
   As a 21 year old he won the American Olympic Trials in a personal best of 47.62. He ran 44.89 for the 400 flat that year which was also a personal best at the time.
 The Olympic Final came in Sydney Australia on the 27th of September and result was:-
   1 Angelo Taylor (USA) 47.50; 2 Had Al-Somali (KSA) 47.53; 3 Llewelyn Herbert (RSA) 47.81; 4 James Carter (USA) 48.04, 5 Eronilde de Araujo (Brazil) 48.34; 6 Pawel Januszewski (Pol) 48.44, 7 Fabrizio Mori (Italy) 48.78, and 8 Grennadiy Gorbenko (UKR) 49.01. Angelo's time was a personal best for him at the time.
    " When the gun went off I took out fast. That gun went off and I can remember running to the first hurdle and then I could not remember anymore of the race till coming off the last hurdle. I could kind of see out of my peripheral vision somebody right next to me. I can remember dipping at the finish and leaning. I did not know I had really won!'
   As a fast  400 man too the USA chose him for the relay and he did the qualifying rounds
   " In 2000 I ran the first two rounds which was very special for me as a 400 hurdler to be chosen to do the relay!"
   Angelo Taylor is very handy with the 400 as his second event so runs it often
   " I try and split my time between the two events. It takes my mind off the hurdles but at the same time it lets my competitors know, when they see me run a flat 400 fast they would think, when he gets back to the hurdles we have got to deal with this!'
   In the intervening years between the two Olympic Games when times were sometimes difficult for him, he was not letting slip his two events and was keeping up a good standard up.
   In 2007 he obtained a bronze medal in the World Championships on the flat in Osaka and a gold in the 4x400
The result of the first three in the individual event in the World Championships was 1 Jeremy Warniner (USA) 43.45, 2 La Shawn Merrit (USA) 43.96 and 3 Angelo Taylor (USA) 44.32.That year Angelo Taylor ran 44.05 in Indianapolis on the 23rd of June which was his personal best.
   In 2008 the Olympic Trials for the 400 hurdles in Eugene was 1 Bershawn Jackson 48.17, 2 Kerron Clement 48.36 and 3 Angelo Taylor 48.42
   When I asked Angelo whether he had an inkling, after that he might be able to take the gold in Beijing his answer was 'Of course. I was third in the trials so I made the team again for the Olympic Games. I did have just a little thought, maybe I could not do it again. My friends and family were so supportive. They told me I could do it again and kept telling me that. My friend Dwight Phillips said -'They can't beat you this is yours to win.'
   I had lane 6 in the final, Bershawn was in 7 and Kerron in 4'
   Result of the 2008 Final in China:- 1 Angelo Taylor (USA) 47.25; 2 Kerron Clement (USA) 47.98, 3 Bershawn Jackson (USA) 48.06, 4 Danny McFarlane (JAM) 48.30, 5 L.J.Van Zyl (RSA) 48.42, 6 Mark Plawgo (Pol) 48.52; 7 Markino Buckley (JAM) 48.60; 8 Perilis Lakovaks (GRE) 49.96. Then there was the 4x400 relay Gold that Angelo was part of that won with Bahamas 2nd and Russia 3rd
The USA team set an Olympic record of 2:55.39 and their team as L Shawn Merritt 44.4; Taylor 43.7, Neville 44.16 and Wariner 43.18.(In 2010 still the second fastest overall time on record.)
   " It was a big memory as we set the Olympic record that was really special.'
   Angelo points out about the amazing World class athletes, all coming form the USA in the 400 and sprints.
   " I live in a nice climate in Atlanta. We have so much competition. People ask me all the time 'Why are we so strong in the 400 sprints. I just say adaptation .Charles Darwin's theories 'The Survival of the Fittest--Everyone is running fast in  the area"
   Outside of athletics he loves the  things most people enjoy.
   " I like music. I have been to a few concerts. I like listening to my I Pod when I warm up and work out. I like films too."

Alastair Aitken

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