Jonathan Edwards backs Phillips Idowu to shine despite chaotic build-up

 

Jonathan Edwards believes Phillips Idowu may be relishing his chaotic build-up to the Olympics.

Triple-jump star Idowu has repeatedly hit the headlines ahead of London 2012 amid fears over his fitness and state of mind going into the Games.

But 2000 Olympic champion and world-record holder Edwards has claimed Idowu loves nothing more than causing a "stir" before pulling out a gold-medal winning performance seemingly from nowhere.

"Part of what makes Phillips good is that rebellious nature that he has," Edwards told Press Association Sport at the launch of 'The Olympic Journey: The Story of the Games' at London's Royal Opera House.

"He's also slightly mischievous, he likes creating a bit of controversy, a bit of a stir.

"Assuming that he is 100% fit, he'll enjoy going out there in qualifying and showing everybody that he's got his preparation absolutely right.

"Over the last four years, he's always done exactly that. He's always produced a season's best or a personal best in a major championships.

"He hasn't been out of the top two in an Olympic, world or European championships over the last four years.

"So, he's proven that he can perform. And I have no doubt that, if he is fit, he'll do that in London."

Idowu has clashed with both UK Athletics and the British Olympic Association in the past week over his management of a nerve problem in his hip and back.

"I think he'll use it to energise himself," added Edwards, who this week criticised the BOA for demanding Idowu's medical records.

"He'll get a certain amount of motivation from this enigmatic build-up that he's had."

Idowu's reputation as a lone wolf is summed up by the fact he has never really turned to Edwards, despite the latter being the greatest triple-jumper of all time and the huge parallels between their respective attempts to win Olympic gold.

Edwards said: "I'd love him to succeed. He's an east-end boy. It'll be his last Olympic Games.

"He got a silver in Beijing, I got a silver in Atlanta - we were probably both expected to win.

"There's been that four-year wait, similar kind of age, last chance to win an Olympic gold medal.

"So I know exactly the position he's in. I know, to a degree, the pressure he's feeling."

Idowu will not be the only athlete with the hopes of the nation on his shoulders, something that can work both ways.

Edwards said: "For some athletes, it will prove to be too much - the pressure, the expectation will mean they'll underperform.

"They'll choke, to use the blunt phrase.

"For others, though, it will bring more out of them.

"It will create a performance that will even surprise themselves."

Edwards insisted he would not swap his own gold from Sydney for a chance to compete himself, mainly because he has found being a member of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games so rewarding.

So how does he feel now it is all finally under way?

"I got involved with the bid back in 2003, so it's really nine years," he said.

"It is exciting but it's also slightly bizarre, slightly surreal.

"I'd want to pay tribute to all the people that have been involved, the hard work and effort that's gone on, across so many different organisations.

"As a country, we've done an outstanding job."

As well as the Games themselves, London is hosting a Cultural Olympiad, with today witnessing the opening of a free audio-visual exhibition telling the story of the Olympics from their creation in 776BC through to 2012.

"This is the first time that the Olympic Museum has come outside of its home in Lausanne," Edwards said.

"I hope it's going to be one of the legacies of London 2012 that the Olympic story can be told in all future hosts cities.

"So it's great that the Royal Opera House and BP have got behind this and created what, I think, is an amazing experience."

:: 'The Olympic Journey: The Story of the Games' is supported by BP and will run throughout London 2012 at the Royal Opera House. Entry is free and visitors can see torches and medals from every modern Games as well as hearing the personal stories of 16 Olympic greats.

PA

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