The soap opera is over for Phillips Idowu

7 Aug

As Team GB triple jumper Phillips Idowu prepared to warm up for qualifying this morning in the Olympic Stadium, he must’ve been prepared to face not only his qualifying test but his critics.

Idowu, Great British Silver Medallist in the Triple Jump in Beijing has been a controversial competitor for the team in the build up to the Olympics. His absence at the Great British training camp in Portugal began an array of frantic questions concerning his fitness, injury and rumours of a rift between himself and Great British head coach, Charles Van Commenee.

Suffering from a trapped nerve following a performance incident in June, Idowu was alleged to have broken off all contact with the UK athletics coaching and medical staff opting to be treated by his own private physiotherapist. However, contrary to reports, Idowu arrived at the athletes’ village on Sunday, 2 days before his competition began.

After being off the radar not only to the public, fellow athletes and his head coach, Idowu appeared as if out of nowhere on the social networking site twitter on Saturday (4, August) confirming that he had been in London the entire time ‘finalising my prep and receiving therapy’ and that this has been known to ‘the appropriate people. ‘These ‘people’ would no doubt have been the relevant authorities who would have needed to know the triple jumper’s whereabouts for doping purposes and for forward planning. It was not a secret. Idowu’s tweet also suggested that he was always due to arrive in the Olympics village on Sunday which begged fresh questions as to the reason such doubt ensued initially.

Irrespective of this, Idowu stunned critics by arriving at the stadium looking fresh and focused this morning but gave three very disappointing jumps, failing to reach the qualifying twelve with a jump of 16.52 metres which left him in 14th place in overall standings. This was a disappointing end to the soap opera that has surrounded Idowu in recent weeks and one cannot help but ask if the media speculation and comments of his head coach have taken a toll upon both him and his performance.

Speaking in one of the most mature and collected interviews of his career with the BBC after failing to qualify for the final today, he spoke of a sincere disappointment at not qualifying claiming that he knows he can jump better than that.

‘I knew I would be rusty because it’s been a while, conditions were difficult because of the wind and I knew that would be a factor, but that wasn’t me out there today, I’ve competed for 12 years and I can’t remember a time I’ve performed that badly.’

When asked of his own version of events surrounding his ‘disappearance’ he confirmed he had been travelling to Birmingham from London receiving physiotherapy and training with his coach. Although he confirmed original reports of a trapped nerve he then revealed the possibility of surgery due to a problem with his right leg.

“I’m guessing I will need surgery at the end of this season. I’ll call it a day and wrap up the season. I wanted to battle for gold but now I’ll go home and reassess and try not to be down about my performance. It’s over and there’s nothing I can do. ‘

Idowu, 33 is not quite in his prime for a triple jumper; however he could still have some potential in strong performances for future competitions. For his fans this is upsetting news. While Idowu did not appear to show any signs of pain or discomfit in his jumps this morning and an extremely positive focus he clearly was not as fully-fit as he should have been. His disappointing performance was not for lack of trying and it was clear that Idowu knew he was not up to the fight. Idowu, London born still received an enthusiastic reception from his home fans and for his own benefit it is hopeful that more questions and criticisms do not begin to be directed toward the triple jumper.

At times like this is becomes clear the considerable amount of pressure our home athletes experience to perform well to achieve a podium position. While this morning has been a disappointing time for Great British fans we have plenty to be proud of. Supportive fans, a smooth running competition and of course a growing collection of 40 medals. Idowu should be proud of his perseverance no thanks to an unsupportive head coach who sought to tarnish his name at a time when he needed his support.

Author:Nadya SJ

Source(s):BBC, The Independent, @PhillipsIdowu

Photographs: BBC Sport, The Daily Telegraph

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