Idowu's task gets tougher after Tamgho is declared fit

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The Independent Online

The main bulk of the British track and field team arrived in Barcelona yesterday, ready to chase gold, silver and bronze when the European Championships open in the Montjuic Olympic Stadium tomorrow. They were greeted by some good news and some not-so-good.

For Phillips Idowu, the world outdoor triple jump champion, there was confirmation that he will have to face the new French sensation of the hop, step and jump. There had been more than a little doubt about Teddy Tamgho's participation here when the 20-year-old withdrew from the Diamond League meeting in Paris 10 days ago with a calf injury. He spent last week battling to overcome the problem but his agent, Rene Augin, said yesterday that he was "OK" and "ready to compete".

Just how ready Teddy might be to replicate the stunning form that took him to a world indoor record of 17.90m at the World Indoor Championships in Doha in March, and to 17.98m at the Diamond League meeting in New York in May, remains to be seen – starting in the qualifying rounds tomorrow night. If nothing else, the fact that Idowu's main rival has endured a troubled build-up will encourage the Belgrave Harrier to believe his task in Barcelona might not be as severe as it could have been. With Christian Olsson, the reigning champion, ruled out of Sweden's team with injury, Idowu's prospects of gold are looking better than they did a month ago.

For Michael Rimmer, there is also the glint of a possible gold. The Liverpool Harrier was already a likely contender for a medal in the 800m, having reduced his lifetime best for the distance to 1min 44.49sec in Lausanne a fortnight ago. However, the news that Yuriy Borzakovskiy, the 2004 Olympic champion from Russia, is out of the championships has elevated the 24-year-old Rimmer's standing to that of one of a handful of evenly-matched contenders.

Meanwhile, as Dwain Chambers continued his preparations for his 100m duel with Christophe Lemaitre in the knowledge he will be barred from the 2012 Olympics by the British Olympic Association because of the two-year doping suspension he served, out in the United States Justin Gatlin emerged from a four-year drugs ban yesterday with his sights firmly on the London Games.

"I think I have enough time to gain the consistent speed that I need to go out there and medal," the former 100m world record holder said.

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