Athletics: Idowu facing a great's expectations

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The Independent Online

Jonathan Edwards has backed Phillips Idowu to prove himself by claiming gold at this weekend's European Indoor Championships in Madrid.

Jonathan Edwards has backed Phillips Idowu to prove himself by claiming gold at this weekend's European Indoor Championships in Madrid.

Idowu has taken over from the former Olympic champion as Britain's top-ranked triple-jumper, and he has also jumped further than any of his European rivals in 2005. His effort of 17.30 metres, set in Sheffield last month, puts him clear of the Slovakian Dmitrij Valukevic and the Russian Igor Spasovkhodskiy.

As a 21-year-old, Idowu finished sixth in the 2000 Olympic final, but Edwards believes that a new lease of form could put the Belgrave Harrier in with a chance of his first ever major championship gold medal.

"His ability is undoubted, but apart from the Commonwealth Games, all his best performances seem to happen in domestic meetings," Edwards said yesterday. "Now he has to start producing at international level and here is the beginning. Obviously it's all down to him, but if he jumps as well as he did in Sheffield he could win the gold medal."

The absence of the reigning Olympic champion, Sweden's Christian Olsson, from Madrid this weekend due to injury gives Idowu every chance of meeting Edwards' expectations.

Idowu will be one of the first Britons in action, along with his triple-jump colleagues Larry Achike and Nathan Douglas, when his qualifying round takes place on Friday, the first day of the championships.

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