LONDON (Reuters) - Jonathan Edwards grimaces when he thinks about the World Athletics Championships in London this year.
“I think my world record could go there ... I’ve looked at the schedule - August 10. My son’s birthday ... a double blow. That’ll be a bad birthday present, if he does break it,” said Edwards said.
“He” is Christian Taylor, American Olympic and world champion, whose best triple jump is 18.21 metres - eight centimetres short of Edwards’ record, which has stood for almost 22 years. But Edwards has an uneasy feeling as London prepares to host the 2017 track and field extravaganza later this year.
“Well, firstly I would say that it is a good record,” Edwards laughed as he eased back into a sofa in central London, reflecting on why that 1995 Gothenburg mark has remained out of reach for so long.
“I did something that nobody has been able to do since in terms of speed, power and keeping momentum. Since then it has been more about power rather than fluidity.”
Taylor jumped his best distance almost exactly 20 years later, and Edwards thinks the American has come closest to having that fluidity, which is why he is primed to possibly eclipse him at London’s Olympic Stadium in August.
There is another reason Edwards’ record has stood for so long, the 50-year-old says, one which highlights a major challenge facing athletics.
”Triple jump is less popular now than it was when I was jumping,“ he said. ”So the talent pool is smaller.
“There may well be someone out there who could have broken my world record, but instead they went into some other sport.”
Now a broadcaster for Eurosport, Edwards cuts a relaxed and languid figure on the sidelines of some of the world’s biggest sporting events. It is a far cry from some of his days as a competitor, he says.
“Often when competing, the run-up to major events would be unbearable,” he smiled. “The championships would be the last place in the world I would want to be at.”
Although the pressure of competing is behind him now, he may be forgiven a flutter of butterflies in his stomach when Taylor approaches the run-up in London.
Editing by Larry King