Americans Christian Taylor and Omar Craddock were second and fourth in qualifying for the triple jump at the World Championships in Beijing Wednesday, with defending silver medalist Pedro Pichardo of Cuba first at 17.43 meters, which he recorded on his third and final attempt. Craddock, the U.S. champion indoors and outdoors, jumped 16.69 meters on his first attempt and met the standard at 17.01 on his second to earn a spot in Thursday’s final at National Stadium.
“I felt really good, I came in the competition really confident, ranked No. 3 in the world, and I’m just ready to compete,” Craddock said. “My first jump wasn’t what I wanted, I felt choked up on the boards, but in the second one, I got it done. I jumped my personal best, my confidence is so high, I feel like a veteran right now. Every competition I’ve gone in afters USAs, I’ve jumped 17 meters every jump, I’m accomplishing my goals.”
Taylor, the Olympic gold medalist and 2011 world champion, jumped 16.77 on his first attempt and 17.28 on his second. He is seeking a return to the podium after finishing fourth two years ago.
“Everything happens for a reason, but I’m just grateful I’m here now,” said Taylor, who had been plagued with injuries and switched jumping feet. “I’ve been right handed the whole time. For long jump, I think it’s drastic, but in triple jump, we do so many things, so it’s not that difficult, the timing is the most important part.”
Will Claye, the Phoenix native who was a two-time defending bronze medalist in the event, plus the Olympic silver medalist, missed his first attempt, before jumping 15.73 and 16.41 to place 19th. Marquis Dendy, who competed in the long jump two days earlier, jumped 14.36, 16.73 and 16.32, just missing the cut in 13th place. All four athletes competed for the University of Florida.
“I couldn’t be more proud,” said Craddock, who also touched on the fact that only one U.S. woman has ever made the triple jump final. “We wanted to get all four of us into the finals, but things like this happen, we’ll be back. There were four of us here, all fighting together, it takes camaraderie, there’s not that many U.S. jumpers that do the triple jump, and the ones that do, sometimes they can’t get the proper coaching. I try to encourage them because representing the USA is a lot of pride, not only for the men’s team, but for the women, I want us all to be great.”
Other competitors in Thursday’s final are: Marian Oprea of Romania (17.07 meters, the 33-year-old won silver in the 2004 Olympics and bronze in 2005 World Championships, and he was sixth in 2013), Nelson Evora of Portugal (17.01, 2008 Olympic champion, 2007 world champion and 2009 silver medalist), Dmitriy Sorokin of Russia, Lyukman Adams of Russia, Benjamin Compaore of France, Jonathan Drack of Mauritius, Godfrey Khotso Mokoena of South Africa (long jump silver medalist in 2008 Olympics), Tosin Oke of Nigeria, and Leevan Sands of the Bahamas (2008 Olympic bronze medalist).