'Invisible Man' Phillips Idowu returns to jump on any injury fears ahead of Olympics

Gold medal hope contradicts claims by Van Commenee over his fitness for London

Big Ben had just struck 9.30am yesterday when Big Phil turned up on Westminster Pier, complete with personalised baseball cap and Batman T-shirt. It was the first public sighting of Phillips Idowu for five and a half weeks, since the 6ft 6in Hackney man landed awkwardly midway through the triple jump competition at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon on 2 June.

According to Charles van Commenee, the head coach of UK Athletics, Idowu's absence from the competitive arena in the crucial build-up to the home Olympics has been due to injury. Not so, claimed Idowu – who intends to return to action on the second day of the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace on Saturday, and who insisted that all will be right on the night of the hop, step and jump final in the Olympic Stadium on Thursday 9 August.

Idowu has long been an enigma wrapped up in a headband, and on a cruise down the Thames to publicise his appearance at the Palace it was difficult to pin down exactly what has been going on with the 33-year-old Belgrave Harrier in his Scarlet Pimpernel Olympic preparations – other than a continuing rift with Van Commenee that is patently as wide as the dirty old river of his home town.

The pair have not spoken since June last year, when Van Commenee accused Idowu of announcing his withdrawal from the European Team Championships on Twitter, and Idowu responded by branding Van Commenee "a liar".

When Idowu withdrew from the Olympic trials in Birmingham three weeks ago, Van Commenee said he could not discuss the situation because of "medical confidentiality." And when the Olympic track and field team was announced in London last week, the Dutchman said that Idowu had missed the trials because "he was injured".

According to Idowu yesterday, however, there has been no specific injury. "I'm good," the former world champion and 2008 Olympic silver medallist said. "I've just been keeping my head down, getting on with my day job. I've not mentioned anything about an injury. No one's actually heard the words come out of my mouth – or from my coach or from any of my representatives. I've just let that rumour mill stir itself.

"It's worked in my favour – especially with it being such a big year and it being a massive championships for me, being born and raised in East London. I'm glad that I've had the time to just focus on the work that I need to do to go out and perform really well."

Clearly, the East Ender with the Batman clobber has been happy to fly under the radar in home-from-home Olympic year. "Yeah, they call me the Invisible Man," he said, with a smile.

Still, it is flying in the face of track and field convention to be invisible for six weeks in the run up to an Olympic Games without a medical reason. Asked to clarify that he had not been injured during his prolonged absence from action, Idowu replied: "Any competition I've missed has been precautionary." Precautionary because of injury or some other factor, though?

"Precautionary because... I triple jump, so I'm always feeling aches and pains," Idowu responded to the follow-up query. "It's Olympic year, so I don't want to do anything to jeopardise my chances of being in the best possible shape that I can be in at the Games.

"Missing the trials was precautionary – to make sure that I could recover from the work I'd done in the lead up to the trials and then focus on another block of training in preparation for this competition and the Games. I've never mentioned or said anything about having an injury."

Van Commenee, however, did use the 'i' word when asked about Idowu at the Olympic team announcement a week ago, and inferred it at the trials with his reference to "medical confidentiality".

What had Idowu made of that? "You know what, the only story I've read [about a supposed injury] was when I landed back from Eugene on 2 June and it was a shock to me," he said.

"I was like 'Wow, that's news'. That story was out in the press before I had even spoken to anybody."

But what about Van Commenee having stated more recently that he was injured at the time of the trials? "So he told you that?" Idowu replied. "I don't know anything about that. I can't comment because I don't even know if he used those words. I don't know what happened."

Clearly, what has been happening since June last year is a festering of the bad blood between one of the major medal contenders in the British team and the head coach.

"That's not an issue, to be honest," Idowu insisted. "This year I have kept myself to myself. The people most important to me are my family, my representatives and my coach.

"Those are the small circle of people I work with, who are involved in my preparation for the Games. Outside of that, no one else needs to be involved."

It will come as no shock to Van Commenee to hear that he is considered an outsider by his most consistent medal winner on the major championship front. It will be a greater concern to him, however, that Idowu is outside of the top eight in the world rankings – down in 10th with a season's best of 17.31m – with two weeks to go before the home Olympics.

Not that Idowu himself is concerned by his lack of form. "I always feel that when it comes to competing for medals you will get the best out of me," he said. "I definitely feel that I have the form in me that I had in Daegu last year."

At the World Championships in South Korea last August, Idowu took silver behind Christian Taylor, the young American who leads the 2012 world rankings with 17.63m. "I have that form in me, and more," he added. "It is just a case of performing and getting that big jump out."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform