Phillips Idowu yesterday apologised for pulling out of the triple jump at the Aviva London Grand Prix – just three days after insisting injury was not behind his long lay-off this season, writes Phil Casey.
Olympic silver medallist Idowu has competed just three times in 2012, with his last appearance coming in Oregon on 1 June, when he took three jumps before sitting out the rest of the competition.
The 33-year-old subsequently withdrew from meetings in Oslo and Paris and the Olympic trials in Birmingham, with UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee declining to clarify Idowu’s situation due to issues of “medical confidentiality”.
Idowu claimed on Wednesday he had never mentioned an injury and was happy to let the “rumour mill stir itself”, but pulled out of the competition at Crystal Palace just 25 minutes before it was due to start with a hip problem he felt while warming up.
He wrote on Twitter: “Hey guys, sorry to have to pull out of #ALGP, slight bit of muscle tightness. I will be fine in a day or 2. Hope the other jumpers put on a great show for you. See you 7th aug. thanks for your support.”
7 August is the date of triple jump qualifying at the London Olympics, meaning Idowu has just 23 days to get himself in top shape.
The Londoner said he pulled out of the competition in Oregon because slipping on the wet board had put “the fear of God” into him, and Jonathan Edwards felt Idowu probably “didn’t fancy” facing similar conditions in London.
“When I turned up at the track this morning, I asked myself ‘Would I have wanted to jump today?’ and the answer was no,” the former Olympic champion and world record holder said on the BBC.
“Phillips probably didn’t fancy it, but there is nothing to worry about. It’s cold, damp and he doesn’t want to take any risks. We will forgive him everything if he jumps well in London.”
Idowu’s withdrawal came in a worrying 20-minute spell for Britain’s Olympic medal hopes after Tiffany Porter, right, broke down in tears after finishing last in her semi-final of the 100m hurdles.
Porter – one of the so-called “plastic Brits” after switching allegiance from the United States – has been carrying a back injury and looked in pain as she slowed down from the seventh hurdle onwards before finishing in 14.19 seconds, more than 1.5secs behind winner Virginia Crawford.
American Danielle Carruthers, who finished third, comforted Porter on the track and said: “She’s a little dinged up and she is a little worried because the pressure of competing well and getting a medal in your home town is big.””
Another medal prospect, Robbie Grabarz, could only finish joint second alongside Tom Parsons in the high jump with a best of 2.22m.
It was a better day for Christine Ohuruogu and Goldie Sayers. Sayers improved her own British record in the javelin to claim a bonus of $5,000 and an early present ahead of her 30th birthday on Monday.
But reigning Olympic champion Ohuruogu was perhaps even more impressive as she defied the miserable conditions to win the 400 metres in a season’s best of 50.42 seconds, powering past world champion Amantle Montsho of Botswana in the home straight.
“I just wanted to sharpen up for London,” said Ohuruogu, who was last in the same race last year after a “really appalling” performance and went on to be disqualified from the World Championships in Daegu for a false start.
“I’ve done all the work so I’m happy that I can take something like that away.”
Earlier in the afternoon, Sayers threw 66.17m in the first round to better her previous best of 65.75m, which was set when finishing fourth in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
The 29-year-old also managed 65.74m in the third round to leave Olympic champion and world record holder Barbora Spotakova almost two metres behind in second.
“It’s one of the best days in my athletics career. I am delighted,” Sayers said. “It’s going to take further for gold in London but it was good practice in the rain. I hope everyone is going to be doing a rain dance in London because I think it would suit me.
“It’s my 30th birthday on Monday so it’s a nice present; the drinks are on me! It’s been a long time coming and it’s very good timing, but as all athletes say, there’s definitely a lot more left in there so I just need to find how to get it out at the Games when it matters.”