Leap of faith: Edwards eyes trip to Tokyo

Warren Arceneaux

Lake Charles native Christian Edwards is a few big jumps from reaching the Tokyo Olympics.

Edwards will compete tonight in the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. The triple jump qualifying round will begin at 7:15 p.m. with the final round scheduled for 6:40 p.m.

To qualify for the Olympics Edwards must finish in the top three in the final round and reach the Olympic standard of 17.14 meters (56 feet, 23/4 inches).

Edwards’ best jump this year is 16.64 (54-71/4) at SEC Indoor Championship Meet, where he finished second competing for Alabama. He finished fourth in the country at the NCAA Division I Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships and 11th at the NCAA Division I Men’s Indoor Track and Field Championships, which were last week at Hayward Field.

He ranks ninth among Trials participants in jumps this year.

“I’m just focused on what it takes to advance to Tokyo,” he said. “I like being competitive, so I like that I will be competing against professionals. It’s just doing the same thing I do in practice so there’s really no pressure. It’s just executing the plan.”

Success at Washington-Marion High School in the high and triple jumps started Edwards’ Olympic dreams.

“I really only paid attention in high school, after I started doing track and field in ninth grade,” he said. “Since then it has been a dream of mine, but I did not know what it takes to get there. I started realizing I might have enough talent to get there in 10th grade.”

Edwards said he wants to rebound from the NCAA meet.

“It was a pretty good season but the championships didn’t go as planned,” he said. “I had a big jump on my first attempt but I fouled. Now I have a chance to make up for it at the Trials.”

The triple jump is a demanding event which can produce large swings from jump to jump.

“It’s very frustrating because the run is 75 percent of the jump, then you have a bunch of little things, like where to place your foot and attacking the ground,” Edwards said. “I pray that it all comes together (tonight).”

Everything appeared to be falling into place for Edwards in his first year at Alabama. In 2018, he finished sixth in the NCAA outdoors, won the U.S. Junior Championship and qualified to represent the USA at the 20-under World Championships in Finland.

There he placed 17th while unknowingly competing with a torn patella tendon in his knee, an injury which caused him to miss the 2019 season.

In 2020, Edwards competed in the indoor season while the outdoor season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Edwards said the bumps in the road haven’t deterred him.

“I really think it was God’s plan with the way everything worked out because it gave me more time to work on technique,” he said. “Now it’s time to put it together and give my all.”

He has a full year of college eligibility remaining, plus an additional outdoor season should he choose to remain in school.

“I want to come back next year and work on high jump also,” he said. “I have enjoyed the process of growing. I have grown a lot technique-wise. I enjoy seeing the process of my growth. The highlights have been jumping 54-7 indoor and high jumping 7-1 at the SEC championship meet without practicing.

“I did it then because we were trying to win the team meet,” Edwards explained. “I haven’t practiced high jump since my freshman year. I think if I can get my technique right I can jump 7-6, 7-7. I want to be the school record holder in the triple jump, high jump 7-6 before I go. I’m only 2 inches away from the indoor record and five away from the outdoor record in the triple jump.”

Edwards said the trip to Finland was helpful despite the injury.

“It was a great experience even though I didn’t jump too well,” he said. “It showed me what things are like overseas and helped prepare me for this moment. The best part was that I was with athletes from all over the world who had the same dream.”

Edwards said he hopes to return to the hardwood. He was an all-state forward at W-M, leading the Charging Indians to the 2017 Class 4A state championship.

“It is my goal to compete professionally (in track and field), at least for a few years,” he said. “But I still have the basketball dream so I’ll have to see how it plays out. I don’t get to play now because I don’t want to get injured, but it stays on my mind.”

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Lake Charles’ Christian Edwards competes tonight in the U.S. Track and Field Olympic Trials in Eugene, Ore., vying for a trip to Tokyo.

Kirk Meche / Special to the American Press

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