Two weeks on from his war of words with Charles van Commenee, Phillips Idowu has another confrontation on his hands. The dispute between the world triple jump champion and the head coach of UK Athletics about the circumstances of Idowu's withdrawal from the European Team Championships has yet to be resolved.
Similarly, the battle between the 32-year-old Londoner and the 22-year-old Parisian Teddy Tamgho for supremacy in the hop, step and jump world is unlikely to be definitively resolved until the Olympic title is on the line on Idowu's home ground 13 months from now. Still, their tussle in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne tonight is intriguing.
It will be the first meaningful meeting of the year between the Briton who has delivered lifetime best, gold medal-winning performances at the last two outdoor major championships – jumping 17.73 metres to take the world title in Berlin in 2009 and 17.81m to lift the European crown in Barcelona in 2010 – and the talented young Frenchman who jumped 17.98m in New York last summer and improved his world indoor record to 17.92m en route to the European indoor title in his home city in March.
The pair did cross paths on the Diamond League circuit in New York on 11 June but in a meeting ruined by high winds and driving rain Tamgho struggled to nail a valid jump, managing to scrape a paltry 15.55m for seventh place. Nonetheless, the fact that Idowu emerged victorious, albeit with a mere 16.67m, once again showed his mettle in competition.
The Belgrave Harrier has a 6-2 win-loss record against Tamgho and has won all five of the competitions contested in 2011: two indoors, three out. "Distance is not important to me as long as I'm coming out with a victory," Idowu insisted. "The focus for me this year is the World Championships and whatever people do now won't make a difference by the time we're jumping in the final in Daegu."
Two months out from the World Championships in South Korea, Tamgho tops the world rankings, with 17.67m. Idowu stands second with 17.59m. The Briton might have been at odds of late with Van Commenee over his tweeting – a practice the head coach of the British team considers to be "for clowns and attention seekers" – but he enjoys a happy relationship with Tamgho. "I have much respect for Phillips," the Frenchman said. "He has given me a lot of good advice. We talk a lot and send messages. He's my friend."
Idowu is not the only British athlete facing top-drawer opposition in Lausanne tonight. In the 400m hurdles, Dai Greene, the European and Commonwealth champion, lines up against the first three finishers from the 2009 World Championships: Kerron Clement, Javier Culson and Bershawn Jackson.
In the women's 1500m, Charlene Thomas, fresh from her breakthrough victory at the European Team Championships, runs against Caster Semenya, the 800m world champion from South Africa, and Hind Dehiba, the Frenchwoman who has fought a successful court action against the policy of EuroMeetings directors of precluding athletes who have served two-year doping bans.
Meanwhile, LaShawn Merritt, the American 400m runner suspended last year for taking an anabolic steroid that was contained in the "male enhancement" product ExtenZe, has been selected by the United States for the World Championships in August. Merritt's 21-month ban ends on 27 July and he is entitled to a wild-card entry as a defending world champion.
"Placing him on the roster will not deny a position to any other athlete," Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, chief of sport performance at USA Track and Field, said.Reuse content