When we last saw Jeremy Taiwo (left/photo by Paul Merca), he was fighting his way through a left knee injury at the world championships in Beijing that ultimately knocked him out of the competition after the discus portion of the decathlon, after languishing in 12th place after the first day of the two-day event.
In the mixed zone afterwards, he sounded down, and generally bummed out at dropping out of his second straight world championship decathlon, telling reporters, "It was a tough decision, and one I didn't want to make. It was a battle between my will to finish, and my instinct for what my future may be. I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do [indoors]. I would be ecstatic if the USA chose me to represent my country, especially since it's in the Northwest. But if I'm not chosen, it will impact how I work towards making the Olympic team. A million things are running around in my head. But I just need to get home, take time off, feel healthy. And see if I want to start this journey."
That time off for the Newport HS and University of Washington alum included going home to the Seattle area to visit his parents Joseph (a two-time Nigerian Olympian in the triple jump) & Irene, and ponder his next move in the run-up to what hopefully will be a spot on the US Olympic team in Rio next summer.
During that time, he consulted with Seattle Seahawks team physician Edward Khalfayan, after consulting with others about his knee issues.
He also made the decision to leave the US Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, California, where he had resided since the end of 2013, and the multi-events training group headed by coach Kris Mack, and return to Seattle and reunite with UW coaches Pat Licari and Atanas Atanassov, who guided him to his first world championship team in 2013.
In addition to training with the UW multi-events group, Taiwo will have two-time US Olympian and Washington alum Duncan Atwood coach him in the javelin, along with former Husky baseball player Daniel Jahn as his strength and conditioning coach at Maximum Sports Conditioning in Bellevue.
Barring an injury or withdrawal by either reigning world record holder Ashton Eaton or US outdoor champ Trey Hardee before the IAAF world indoor heptathlon championships in Portland in March (unlike the other events contested at the world championships, the multi-events are by invitation only based primarily on world rankings and finish order at world outdoors), Taiwo does not expect to compete at the world indoors, and will play his indoor campaign by ear, despite being the reigning USA heptathlon champ.
He does not yet know his competition schedule for the outdoor season leading up to the US Olympic Trials in Eugene (decathlon will be contested July 2-3), but stated he would like to return to Gotzis, Austria for the Hypo-Meeting,where he finished fourth in a personal best of 8303 points.
Despite being the reigning US indoor champion, and compiling the third best score by an American in 2015 (and #12 score in the world in 2015), Taiwo enters 2016 without the benefit of a sponsor, an advantage that Eaton and Hardee have with Nike.
Taiwo is making ends meet by working part-time at Dick’s Sporting Goods, through a US Olympic Jobs Opportunity program. He, along with the support of several friends, have started a GoFundMe page to raise $15,000 to defray the costs of coaching, specialized shoes for each of the decathlon events, strength training, and travel.
To date, Taiwo has raised over $6500 since starting the page in mid-December.
Taiwo also announced on his Facebook page that he will host an Olympic Tamalada on January 9th from 4 to 7 pm at 2648 169th Avenue SE in Bellevue as the kickoff fundraising event. The event is open to the public.
Those interested in contributing and/or attending the Tamaleda event on January 9th can click the links above for more information.