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Antony Taylor took the baton

February 15, 2013 by  
Filed under News

By Braden Campbell
Globe Correspondent / June 1, 2010

Arlington’s Antony Taylor had just won the 2-mile at the Division 2 indoor track championship Feb. 20 when he left the noise of the Reggie Lewis Center to take a cool-down jog around the familiar Roxbury neighborhood with a pair of fellow runners.

A few blocks from the facility, Taylor looked up to see a young man running toward him at full speed, holding what looked to be a gun. The man raised his weapon and fired.

Taylor felt a sharp pain in his forehead just above his right eye, and then he went numb. The next moments were a blur.
“I was still kind of at that runner’s high, we went outside just to cool down, and all of a sudden that happened,’’ the UMass-bound senior said. “I came back into the track, this cut on my head. People were going crazy, the cops were questioning us, they took me away in an ambulance. The whole thing was wild.’’

Fortunately, Taylor’s injury came not from a bullet but from a BB, and he was quickly bandaged and discharged. He was hit in the ribs and right shoulder as well, but they were glancing blows.

King Philip’s Chris Allen, one of the runners with Taylor, was also hit, though his clothing absorbed the impact. Ed Colvin of Catholic Memorial, the third runner, was not harmed.

The points of impact were tender and his face swelled, but within a few days Taylor’s wounds healed, scar-free. No arrests have been made in the case, as he and the others were unable to identify their assailant.

As soon as the incident occurred, word spread through the Reggie Lewis Center crowd that an athlete had been injured, though details were hazy. When Taylor’s parents heard their son’s name, their worst fears were realized.

“We heard an athlete had been shot. We heard it was Antony Taylor and obviously we stood up, and as I stood I saw him standing at the door with some police officers,’’ said Steve Taylor, Antony’s father. “We immediately saw that this obviously was something serious, but it wasn’t a deadly serious sort of thing.’’

Barry Haley, chairman of the MIAA Board of Directors, said in the wake of the attack, the MIAA forbade athletes from running outside the Reggie Lewis Center for the remainder of the indoor track season. They have yet to reach a decision as to whether the ban will carry into next year.

Nancy Sheehan-Curran, assistant director of the Reggie Lewis Center, said they don’t forbid runners from leaving the track, though they have provided them with what they believe to be a safer route around the neighborhood.

More misfortune
Though Taylor escaped the attack mostly unscathed, he was about to suffer a hardship. A few days after the race, his right foot was in excruciating pain.

Judging by the pain, Taylor knew it was serious. With the state meet less than a week away, though, he refused to acknowledge the extent of his injury. At the track, Taylor’s foot was bothering him more than ever, and he asked his personal coach, Pat O’Connor, for his opinion.

“I looked at him in his eyes and I said, ‘Antony, the rest of us feel pain that you don’t feel,’ ’’ O’Connor said. “ ‘If you’re complaining to me now at this point, and this is really bothering you, the average Joe would be in tears.’ ’’
Nevertheless, Taylor asked his coach to watch him run, to see if he could pick out any irregularities. O’Connor couldn’t, so Taylor took to the track.

On the bend at the end of each lap in the state meet Feb. 26, Taylor would look at his coach and shrug his shoulders, and O’Connor would shrug his shoulders right back.

With seven laps completed, Taylor had a 30-meter lead, and though his gait remained consistent, the look of anguish on his face betrayed his increasing pain. He faltered in the stretch and surrendered the lead, finishing in second place behind Coby Horowitz of Nashoba Regional, nearly 10 seconds slower than his winning pace just a week before.
“Everyone thought I had the race in the bag,’’ Taylor said. “The kid who won had a phenomenal finish, he ran faster than I think I could ever run at the end of a race. My foot was just hurting so much, after the race I couldn’t even stand up.’’
It was time to see a doctor, and though the nationals were still two weeks away, Taylor knew he had no choice but to abandon the season. He was diagnosed with a stress fracture, a common track injury, and was fitted with a boot and crutches.

Looking back, Taylor theorizes it may have started with the shooting.
“I got back to the track and they made me go straight to the hospital, so I never actually stretched from my race,’’ Taylor said. “The next day, because it was so tight, my foot was hurting. That’s when I got the stress fracture — from trying to keep my foot in a certain place so I didn’t hurt myself.’’

Track grows on him
Two years ago, Taylor never would have dreamed he’d be in such a situation.

Growing up, he excelled in numerous sports. He played baseball, basketball, hockey, lacrosse, and his true athletic love, soccer. As a child, the British-born Taylor was immersed in the game.

“My love of soccer doesn’t compare,’’ he said. “Soccer was my first sport; every little kid in England plays, watches, and knows everything about soccer.’’

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