Idowu hopes to lead Tamgho a merry dance in triple jump final

But Frenchman who nearly joined elite 18m club this year starts as favourite
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The Independent Online

He is not exactly the last Tamgho in Paris. All of Teddy Tamgho's family live in the French capital where they will be watching on TV as the 21-year-old attempts to be not just the first Tamgho in Barcelona but first in tonight's triple jump final.

A week ago it looked like the bright new star of the hop, step and jump might not even make it to the European Championships here. Having missed the Diamond League meeting in Paris on 16 July because of hamstring and calf injuries, he was said to be struggling in training and considering withdrawing from the French team. Reports of his likely demise appear to have been somewhat premature.

In the qualifying round on Tuesday night Tamgho picked off a 17.37m jump with the minimum of effort to head the list of 14 jumpers who progressed to the final. The young Frenchman who has taken a significant step ahead of Britain's Phillips Idowu thus far in 2010 will start favourite.

Idowu won the outdoor world title in Berlin last summer but must have felt like he had been Tamghoed when he sat at home watching on television as his rival took the world indoor crown in Doha in March with a mighty 17.90m, a world indoor record. The 31-year-old Briton probably felt the same when he jumped a steady 17.31m at the New York Grand Prix in May and Tamgho uncorked a 17.98m jump, coming within a tantalising 2cm of joining Jonathan Edwards and Kenny Harrison in the 18m club.

Idowu did beat him at the European Team Championships in Bergen six days later but the Belgrave Harrier only jumped 17.12m for second place, and an out-of-sorts Tamgho 17.10m for third, as the Ukrainian Viktor Kuznyetsov claimed an unlikely victory with 17.20m. "There's no pressure on me," Idowu insisted, looking ahead to tonight's rematch. "Hopefully, I'll do enough to win the gold. That's all I'm aiming for."

That is Tamgho's sole aim, too, although he has long-term designs on 18.29m, the world record distance held by Edwards, of Gateshead Harriers and Great Britain, since 1995. The Frenchman made that plain when he first met Edwards, in Turin last year.

"I introduced myself and told him I was going to break his world record," Tamgho recalled. At the time, it was a bold statement to make, the Parisian having just failed to register a valid mark in the qualifying round at the European Indoor Championships in the northern Italian city. Eighteen months on, the track and field world is wondering how far Tamgho might be able to venture beyond the 18m mark – with a little bit of inspiration from the Great British master of the triple jump.

"I study all of Jonathan Edwards's jumps on video," Tamgho said. "Technically, he is the one who has approached the model of perfection. At this stage in my development, I don't know about breaking his world record. I hope to have the legs for it one day, but I have to find another 32cm and that's a lot."