With squads settled and only sixteen days until the London 2012 Olympics officially begin, things are getting tense, here in Britain.
A lot has been made of the medal chances each nation has (Great Britain have put forth an ambitious target of over 90 medals). Stars have been paraded. The politics are over, but still the international sports networks are saturated with names and facts and images about, or of, the star athletes.
However, sometimes the endless television spots and photo opportunities, with sports personalities kissing babies like disgraced politicians, can get in the way.
Phillips Idowu is a big personality. At 6ft 5inches, with garishly dyed hair, multiple piercings and a vast collection of knee-length socks, he stands out. He is also outspoken, willing to talk to cameras whenever broached. He faces campaigns and fills TV spots. The triple jumper has fit the bill, so far.
What he has not done much of, though, is compete. He pulled out of a meet at Eugene, Oregon, earlier in June with a ‘mystery’ foot injury. He did not take part in the British trials, instead appearing as a Games ambassador at a BBC Radio 1 concert.
He has still been selected, almost like a wildcard, but Team GB head coach Charles Van Commenee has admitted that picking the 33-year-old is a risk.
I’ve selected a guy who might be injured. There are no guarantees. The athlete is injured. I have been asked not to disclose what that injury is. That is his decision and I cannot break that.” Van Commenee stated.
He went on to later say, “At the moment it is silly not to select a man who jumped in early June when he injured himself.”
Idowu has today hit back at such rumors, though. “I am doing everything I need to make sure I am prepared for these Games when they come around and I feel like my plan is working perfectly” the jumper said. “”This is a year when I am not going to take any risks, so it was a wise decision on my part and any talk of injury was due to the written press writing stories.”
He is also aware that the field will be strong, despite what the case is. Idowu was a World Champion in ’09 and has an Olympic silver medal, but current World Champion Christian Taylor, of Florida, is well prepared for the Games. Will Claye of the USA is a favorite, while Alexis Capello of Cuba may feature.
Reigning Olympic champion Nelson Evora of Portugal is an unlikely contender, having fallen away in recent year, but having finished fifth in Daegu he may hunt for bronze. Meanwhile, indoor champion Teddy Tamgo, a Frenchman, has had to pull out of the Games with an ankle injury.
The London Olympics is in your back yard. It could be too good to miss. However, with such a strong field and the sheer pressure of keeping up with America’s young duo of Claye and Taylor, is it wise to risk it?
Idowu will. He was always going to.
The triple jump will be a tight and feisty affair.