Albany native and Monroe alum Angelo Taylor was back home Tuesday to present the Lady Tornadoes’ track & field team their state championship rings after Monroe won its third straight girls title last season. Taylor — a two-time Olympic gold medalist — has been training harder than ever for the 2012 Summer Games in London in hopes of winning an unprecedented third gold in the 400-meter hurdles. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ALBANY — Go ahead and throw something in front of Angelo Taylor these days — tree, house, mountain — anything.
Taylor will leap over it.
That’s his mindset. That’s where he lives and breathes right now. That’s how he wakes up in the morning, and that’s how he falls to sleep at night.
The man will clear any hurdle to get what he wants.
“I’ve got to have it, got to,’’ Taylor, who dreams of being the first man to win three Olympic gold medals in the 400-meter hurdles, said Tuesday in an interview with The Herald during his return home to Albany to present the Monroe girls track & field team with their 2011 state-title rings. “It’s all I think about. I think about it all the time. I dream about it all the time. I want to make history.’’
Only two men have ever won gold in the 400 hurdles twice. Taylor and the legendary Edwin Moses, who tried to win the trifecta at the age off 33. Moses finished third, taking home the bronze in his final Olympics in 1988.
Moses and Taylor, who just turned 33 on Dec. 29, both won their gold medals eight years apart. Moses won in 1976 and again in 1984. The USA boycotted the 1980 Olympics because Russia was at war in Afghanistan, so Moses had to wait.
Taylor won his gold medals in 2000 in Sydney and again in Beijing in 2008, and he will try for the unprecedented third gold during the 2012 Summer Olympics in London in just a few months at the age of 33 — just like Moses.
“The minute the Olympics were over in China I started thinking about winning the third gold medal,’’ Taylor said. “I’ve been thinking about it since. When I won the second one that put me in the same company with Edwin Moses. Edwin is great. He is the guru of the 400-meter hurdles.’’
That was indeed elite company — more like an exclusive two-man club. But Taylor, who was born and raised in Albany before moving to Atlanta before high school, wants to be on his own, wants to clear a hurdle no man has ever cleared.
That’s Taylor, who isn’t just dreaming about it. He has dedicated himself to the cause.
He popped in at Monroe on Tuesday to be a part of the Monroe girls track team’s ring ceremony as the guest of honor, handing out rings to the Monroe dynasty, which won its third straight GHSA Class AAA state title last spring.
Taylor’s busy and training hard for London, but said Tuesday he was happy to make time for Monroe principal Valerie Thomas.
“She’s my god-sister,’’ Taylor said of Thomas. “She asked me to come (to the ceremony) and it worked out that I could make it. I was supposed to be in Sarasota (Fla.) training, but it worked out so I could make it here.’’
Taylor handed out the rings, posed for photos, shook hands and was the ideal host for Monroe. But before he headed back home to Atlanta, Taylor hit the track at Monroe and did his daily workout.
“It can’t get here fast enough,’’ Taylor said of the time between now and August when the Olympics begin. The U.S. Trials are at the end of June, and Taylor feels he’ll be ready.
“I want to make history,’’ he said. “I want this more than anything in the world. It’s going to be hard work, but I’m up for the challenge. I can do the work. The main thing is to stay healthy ... you have to be smart about it. I have the will to win it, and I’ve been doing it so long you know how to train.’’
Taylor also said he knows who he has to beat and what times he needs to run to win the gold.
“I think you will need to run in the low 47s to mid 47s,’’ he said. “I ran a 47.9 last year at the U.S. Trials in Eugene last June. You see the same competition everywhere you run. I’m still right there at the top. I can’t wait (for the Olympics). I’m so excited. I’m ready to get it on.’’