Charles van Commenee reveals that he was close to dumping Phillips Idowu from Team GB squad

Head coach irritated by fitness saga but insists he had to give triple jumper chance to 'fulfil his dream'

Monte Gordo

Head coach Charles van Commenee revealed last night that he had considered dropping Phillips Idowu from the British track and field squad for the London Olympics because of the uncertain state of the triple jumper's fitness.

Speaking at the team's pre-Games holding camp here on the Algarve, Van Commenee confided: "I had a sanction not to enter him for the Games but I decided not to play that card."

Talking frankly about a saga that has come to cloud the British team's preparations for the home Games, which open tomorrow, the Dutch coach in charge of the athletics squad agreed that the whole uncertainty and misinformation surrounding Idowu's situation had become a "circus", saying that it was "undermining how the sport should be run".

Van Commenee and the bulk of the British athletics team have been in Portugal for a week, finalising their preparations for the track and field programme at the Games, which does not start until a week tomorrow, but it was announced on Monday that Idowu would be staying in London to have private treatment for a hip problem, prompting the British Olympic Association to request his medical records.

"I felt I didn't want to be in the way of this athlete fulfilling his dream," Van Commenee added. "It's a difficult one, because it's undermining how the sport should be run and proper governance.

"Whether it undermines me is a question that's up to other athletes to answer. I don't feel my position has been undermined but I could understand if people look at it that way."

Asked whether the drawn-out episode – with Van Commenee stating that Idowu missed the Olympic trials in Birmingham last month because of injury, and Idowu then suggesting otherwise before the London Grand Prix a fortnight ago – had become a circus, the GB head coach replied: "Absolutely. It's not great for athletics as a sport.

"It doesn't look good on anybody, but I have only one sanction and I decided not to play that card – because of him, because of the crowd, and because the nation will cry. I can see the point of putting the sanction in place for clarity and for the long-term future and how we run and want to run the sport.

"The question is, 'Do I sacrifice a potential gold medallist for a transparent and clear policy that makes the sport easier to run in the future – or not?' And I decided to have sympathy and to give Phillips the chance to win."

Idowu, the 2009 world champion in the triple jump, has not competed since 2 June but Van Commenee said that he would be happy if the 33-year-old Londoner went into the qualifying round of his event on Tuesday week, even if he was 70 per cent fit.

"Yeah, probably," Van Commenee said. "But you need to know that it's 70 to 80 per cent. What you don't want is 50 per cent of the British team with broken legs and in wheelchairs in the Olympic Village.

"There has to be something in place in the selection criteria that prevents that from happening. You want fit athletes in the team. If there is an indication after a medical examination or looking at the medical records that a particular athlete is 70 or 80 per cent, I'm sure they'll be given the green light.

"I can't say what the BOA will do because it's not me that's doing it, but that is a likely thing to happen."

Van Commenee said he was not surprised that the BOA had made the request to see Idowu's medical records. "Not at all," he said, "because it's in the athletes' contract, so it's a normal thing to happen.

"I can understand the BOA, because there is something like fairness across the board. Every rule has to apply to every athlete. Dave Webb, for instance, has been deselected from the marathon because of lack of fitness.

"So if you apply it to one athlete, I assume you have to apply it to everyone. I don't want to defend the BOA policy. That's not my role. I'm just saying that every principle applies to everybody.

"Paragraph 27 in the selection criteria states that if there is a query about an athlete's fitness, then the BOA can ask for a medical examination, and the next step if that doesn't give all the answers is that a fitness test can be put in place. It's not an automatic sequence. There is a choice."

Van Commenee revealed that Idowu had been using medical services outside the official UK Athletics system since June and admitted that neither himself nor the Belgrave Harrier's personal coach, Aston Moore, a member of the coaching team out here, were aware of his current state of fitness.

"I don't know and Aston also doesn't know," Van Commenee said. "I obviously would have preferred Phillips to be here. This is the best place to prepare."

Bolt declared to be 'fully fit'

Jamaica track team doctor Winston Dawes expects Usain Bolt to be in prime shape to defend his three Olympic titles.

Bolt has been struggling with niggling leg and back problems in recent weeks which have translated themselves into some relatively poor times, while he was also beaten by Yohan Blake in the 100 metres and 200m at the Olympic trials.

"He's back fully," Dawes said. "He has been training very hard and his performance is on track."

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms