U.S. decathlete Jeremy Taiwo uses “Harry Potter” to explain the scoring structure of the decathlon.
Like the magicians in the Triwizard Tournament, decathlons earn points in a variety of different events, and the individual with the most points at the end of the competition is declared the winner.
“All of my friends are big ‘Harry Potter’ fans,” Taiwo said, “so they all dig that.”
Taiwo trains five days per week, for about three hours per day, plus weight training. He explained how he schedules his time to train for the 10 events of the decathlon.
To prepare for the 100m, Taiwo spends more time in the weight room than on the track.
“You get a lot of your speed in the weight room,” he said.
In the weight room, Taiwo focuses on explosive lifting. On the track, he is determined to improve his start over the first 30m of the race.
Taiwo has traditionally practiced the long jump once per week for about an hour. But he recently switched to twice per week, believing that he has a higher ceiling in the event.
The shot put is Taiwo’s favorite event.
“It’s super fun,” he said. “There’s the timing, there’s the strength…there’s a lot of things that go into it.”
He focuses on the shot put once per week, with anywhere from 16 to 25 throws per practice.
Taiwo only practices the high jump once a week or every other week.
Even when he does, he only does about five jumps with a full approach. He believes that he spends less time on the high jump than any other event.
Taiwo typically ends workouts by training for the 400m.
“I try to do a more demanding workout early on,” he said. “Then I do something that will be less impactful on the body, such as running, later on.”
After the high jump, when his legs are tired, Taiwo's coach has him focus on the hurdles.
Taiwo believes his efforts in the weight room deserve the credit for his improvement in the discus throw.
“A lot of the power lifting helps with the discus,” he said.
Until March, Taiwo would pole vault twice a week. He has since shifted to once a week.
“It looks like a lot of fun,” he said, “but pole vault is pretty taxing.”
Transporting his poles are one of his biggest expenses. He typically travels with six or eight pole vault poles, all of which he borrows from the University of Washington. It costs about $300 each way to ship his poles to international competitions.
To fund his international travel, Taiwo set up a GoFundMe page. He earned a $10,000 donation from GoFundMe after being the Olympian who raised the most money between June 27-July 15.
“It’s hard to explain that you are a professional athlete, but you still can’t pay for stuff,” he said. “But I would not have been able to afford a lot of things without it.”
Taiwo practices throwing the javelin once or twice a week for about 40 minutes, focusing on his technique.
“I am mainly working on my approach and my touch with the javelin, trying to fly it,” he said.
Taiwo finishes his 1500m workout before he even arrives at the track.
He trains at two different tracks in Seattle. He typically parks .5 miles away from one track, and 1.5 miles away from the other. Wearing a heavy backpack filled with three pairs of shoes and a foam roller, Taiwo runs from his car to the track. He is therefore able to finish his 1500m training before he even meets his coach at the track.
“It’s almost fortunate that I have to park so far away from where I train,” he said.