When Phillips Idowu won the triple jump at the Olympic trials in Birmingham last July, venturing clear at the top of the world rankings with an effort of 17.58m, he told the trackside television interviewer: "I feel like Superman right now. I'm bullet-proof." Eleven months on, the Belgrave Harrier is getting ready for another tussle with the man who pierced his armour of supposed invincibility when Olympic gold was on the line in Beijing last August.
Nelson Evora images can be seen on giant posters here, depicted as a superhero soaring above this western Portuguese city with a pair of flaming wings. In China's Bird's Nest last summer he flew to victory in 17.67m, beating Idowu by 5cm and consigning the British favourite to the silver medal. In the world rankings for 2009, the pride of Portugal leads the way with 17.66m. Idowu stands in fifth place, 6cm behind.
Having brought back Olympic gold from Beijing, Evora is expected to deliver an individual home victory today on the second day of the European Team Championships in the Estadio Dr Magalhaes Pessoa, despite the presence of a rival with a point to prove. "It's important to have the big names in my event competing against me," the 25-year-old said, when asked about his confrontation with Idowu. "It's an additional motivation for me."
A member of the same Benfica sporting club that produced the footballing great Eusebio, Evora was voted Portugal's sports star of 2008 – ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo. "My life has changed since I won Olympic gold," he said. "It's difficult for me to walk down a street and not be recognised. I was once even asked for an autograph while I was in the toilet."Reuse content