Athletics: Edwards back in the groove for Budapest

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The Independent Online
JONATHAN EDWARDS, who failed to register a distance in his last triple jump competition, fine-tuned his technique to devastating effect here last night to win his third Golden League meeting of the season, writes Mike Rowbottom.

It appeared to be the ideal preparation for next week's European Championship, where he will attempt to add another gold medal to the one he won at the World Championship in Gothenburg three years ago, although afterwards, despite the effectiveness of his effort, Edwards maintained that he had not jumped as well as he could have done. He also shed more light on last Saturday's failure, saying that he now realised that the measurement for his run-up had been three feet adrift throughout the evening.

Britain's 32-year-old world record holder finished the night with a jump of 17.75 metres to his credit, putting him 22cm clear of his nearest challenger, Aleksandr Glovatskiy, of Belarus. But what will have pleased Edwards most was the composed way in which he set about defeating a field which included the Olympic champion, Kenny Harrison, and the world champion of last year, Yoelvis Quesada of Cuba.

Edwards achieved his peak with his fifth attempt of the night, driven forward by a wave of noise from the appreciative spectators who packed the stands around him.

After he rose from the sand his hands went out as he anticipated the distance. When it registered on the digital display his right arm went up in triumph. It was a highly satisfying prelude to Budapest after what has been a difficult week for him.

Edwards reacted with regret to the comments made the previous week by observers, including BBC's Brendan Foster and Linford Christie, that he was competing too much this season and putting his chances of a first European title in jeopardy. His subsequent defeat in the third of the Golden League meetings, in Monaco, put him out of the running for a share in the $1m (pounds 600,000) bonus on offer to those winning their event in all six legs and the concluding grand prix final. But the man who recently sold his Porsche and bought a Volvo because he felt ostentatious wealth sat uncomfortably with his Christian faith maintains that losing that particular fiscal target is not a big deal to him.

The condition of his left ankle, which has troubled him periodically this year, is a more pressing concern right now as he seeks to follow his European Cup victory in June with another win in Budapest next week.

The leg appeared to hold up perfectly last night and he strode from the arena without any hint of a limp. Edwards confirmed afterwards that his ankle was "OK", adding that he would try to go for all three big events - the Europeans, followed by the World Cup in Johannesburg and finally the Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur.

"It was hard work today," he said. "I didn't feel really sharp but I'm happy I won. The foul in Monaco was a very expensive one, but that's life."