He may not be a household name, but Queen Anne resident Jeremy Taiwo is undeniably one of the best athletes in Seattle.
Taiwo, who came in 11th place in the decathlon at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, earned first place in the heptathlon at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 16 in Albuquerque, N.M. Taiwo tallied 5,935 points, edging out second-place finisher Wolf Mahler by 12 points. The heptathlon consists of seven events including the 60-meter dash, 1,000-meter run, 60-meter hurdles, pole vault, high jump, shot put and long jump.
“Honestly I would say I had a stellarly average or below average meet. My final score (5,935 points) was 400 points under my personal best for that meet (6,344 points) and 300 points under my meet record for that meet,” Taiwo said. “It was cool to come away with the win. I had no idea what I was expecting coming in because two or three weeks ago I had gone 5,700. It was cool going to that meet being really under-trained and not really into it mentally to come away and really push myself to perform and complete it. I had a PR (personal record) in the pole vault. That was really cool because I hadn’t PR’d in that event since 2013.”
Taiwo, an alumnus of Bellevue’s Newport High School, said being an athlete at the highest level requires a staunch amount of self discipline with regard to workouts, nutrition, and lifestyle.
“It takes a lot. It kind of revolves around every decision you make outside of the track. That is mentally taxing,” Taiwo said. “There is so much to work and there are so many things where you feel like you’re not doing enough all the time. One of the big philosophies I’m trying to adopt right now is to work easy. There is so much time and commitment that goes into it but I’m going to do it and just work easy and appreciate it because it has been a struggle. I’m appreciating the lessons that I have had from the struggle.”
One of the most inspirational individuals in Taiwo’s life is his father Joseph. Hailing from Nigeria, Joseph competed in triple jump at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. Taiwo said his dad has always exuded a quiet confidence about the sport.
“It has only been in recent years where he has opened up about that. He is always very humble about stuff,” Taiwo said. “I just met a lady in Albuquerque (at the USA Indoor Track and Field Championships) who didn’t realize I was an Olympian. I told her why I do it and why I started track was because of my father. She had some Nigerian connections. I got to hear from these athletes who remembered my dad. It gives me goosebumps.”
Taiwo plans on continuing to compete in the world of the track and field for the foreseeable future.
“I think that as long as it is something that I’m learning from and I’m mentally growing, physical growing, seeing what I’m capable of. I just want to go as far as I can. I’m aiming to push the collective consciousness of what is capable in human beings. That is why I’m in this sport and is why I’m in the decathlon.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Bellevue Reporter.