British hopes of world gold hit by Idowu's paternity leave

And then there were three. When the Great Britain team depart for Doha today, ahead of the World Indoor Championships, which open in the Qatari capital on Friday, one of their major hopes for gold will be left at home holding the baby. Phillips Idowu made the late decision yesterday to take paternity leave instead of defending the triple jump title he won in Valencia two years ago. Which leaves British hopes for global indoor gold pinned on the shoulders of Jessica Ennis, Jenny Meadows and Dwain Chambers.

It was not an entirely unexpected decision. Throughout the indoor season, as he has struggled to find the form that took him to the outdoor world title in Berlin last summer, Idowu has vacillated about his Doha intentions. Having accepted a spot on the squad a fortnight ago, team officials made the assumption that the Belgrave Harrier would be competing. The delayed arrival of his second child has dictated otherwise.

"I am gutted not to be representing the Great Britain team in Doha and passing up the opportunity to defend my title," Idowu said yesterday. "However, the late arrival of my baby boy has meant that my training has been severely disrupted and I decided after talking with my coach that I'd not had the preparation we agreed was needed to do the British team proud. I was hoping to avoid this by competing in a larger than usual number of events early in the season, but it hasn't worked out that way."

Charles van Commenee, head coach of UK Athletics, said: "I am disappointed that Phillips is not competing this week as he was a clear medal prospect for us. However, I need to respect his decision and I look forward to him resuming winning ways [at the European Championships] in Barcelona in the summer."

Whether Idowu would have returned to winning ways in Doha is a moot point. The 31-year-old Londoner has won just one of his four indoor competitions this season. Against international opposition in Gothenburg, Stockholm and Birmingham, he has finished fifth, fourth and fourth. He stands sixth in the world rankings with a season's best of 17.25m.

Still, given his recent major championship record, Idowu would have gone to Doha as the man to beat in the triple jump.

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