London 2012: 'Invisible man' Phillips Idowu fails to qualify for Olympics triple jump final but dismisses talk of retirement

Failure to qualify brings the curtain down on a bizarre fortnight for the Hackney-born athlete
  • @jerometaylor

The soap opera came to an end in little over an hour. Phillips Idowu, the Beijing silver medallist who virtually disappeared in the run up to the Games following a row with his coach and doubts about his fitness, failed to qualify for the final of the triple jump today.

It brings the curtain down on a bizarre fortnight for the Hackney-born athlete who had been one of Team GB's high hopes for a track and field medal.

Idowu, who can usually clear 17 metres even on a bad day, could only manage a best of 16.53 metres, leaving him in 14th place and well below the mark needed to proceed into the finals. The 33-year-old east Londoner has suffered in recent months from a trapped nerve after he slipped on a take off board and damaged his left knee. As preparations for the Olympic Games got under way, Idowu went underground, refusing to turn up to Team GB's pre-Olympic training camp in Portugal and only arriving in the athletes village on Sunday evening. He insisted he was simply in London preparing for the games but he ended up being dubbed “the invisible man”.

In a series of candid post-match interviews, Idowu recognised that he was not at the top of his game.

“I knew I would be rusty because it's been a while,” he said, “Conditions were difficult because of the wind and I knew that would be a factor, but that wasn't me out there today. I've competed for 12 years and I can't remember a time I've performed that badly.”

He added: "I'm guessing I will need surgery at the end of this season. I'll call it a day and wrap up the season. I wanted to battle for gold, but now I'll go home and reassess and try not to be down about my performance. It's over and there's nothing I can do. The crowd have been great. I'm upset that I let them down. All year I've been tagged as a medal favourite and I haven't got the chance to go out there and do it."

Idowu had been one of Britain's greatest gold medal hopes in the Olympic Stadium. In Beijing he won the silver medal. But recently the headlines have centred around arguments with his coaching team.

The triple-jump star still clearly has a lingering animosity towards sporting chiefs as he hit out at the lack of funding he has received while preparing for the Olympics. In an interview with BBC Radio 5 live, he said: "I am not lottery funded. I have not been lottery funded for at least three years. I pay for my own medical, I pay for my own physio and I will pay for my own surgery.”

He added: “There is no association between me and UK Athletics Association. If you can find a form that I have signed that says I received money from UKAA then hold me accountable but over the last three years I have been out there and won world titles, world silver medals, Olympic silver medals and I have done that out of my own pocket."

But he ruled out any suggestion that he might retire. "Definitely I am going to carry on competing," he said. "I don't think you've seen the best of me yet. Regardless of my achievements at these Games I was never going to finish here."