Team GB's Phillips Idowu cuts himself off from coach Aston Moore


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The Independent Online

Another day; another twist in the tortuous Phillips Idowu soap opera. As well as cutting himself off from the British athletics team, the troubled triple jumper has now cut all contact with his coach, Aston Moore.

The latest development was revealed  at the British track and field team’s pre-event press conference today by head coach Charles van Commenee, who could not contain his exasperation that the saga had come to overshadow his squad’s preparations for the athletics programme, which opens in the Olympic Stadium tomorrow morning.

Asked whether he had been in contact with Idowu, who missed the team ‘holding camp’ at Monte Gordo in Portugal to have private treatment to a hip injury, van Commenee replied: “No, I have not been in touch with Phillips. Up until about two weeks ago Aston Moore, his coach, whom I work with very closely, was in regular contact. But t that contact died.

“We had text messages about a week ago, and that was it. All the information we have about Phillips is now coming from the British Olympic Association.  That information is that he is fit and ready to go.”

Moore has been Idowu’s coach since 2008, guiding the 33-year-old Londoner to the World Championship title in Berlin in 2009. He is employed as national event coach for the triple jump by UK Athletics and, as such,  is a member of van Commenee’s Olympic coaching  team.

“I will make Aston available if need be,” van Commenee said. “But first Phillips has to show up, and we don't know when he will show up or if he will show up. We've got no idea.”

Under International Olympic Committee rules, competitors are obliged to report to the athletes’ village at least 48 hours before their event. The qualifying round for the men’s triple jump is at 10.45am on Tuesday.

Asked whether he was disturbed the opening of a rift between Idowu and Moore, Van Commenee – who had a public falling out with the athlete last summer – replied: “It's not right, obviously, because I know how important coaching is in direct preparation.

“That's the reason we go on camp, so that athletes have 24/7 contact with coaches and support staff. Phillips decided not to join the team, and by definition therefore in my eyes that compromised his preparation.

“I find it bizarre. Aston finds it bizarre. We have to deal with the situation as it is presented to us. Phillips is under the wings of the BOA at the moment, and we'll support him when needed, like we always have.

“UK Athletics has supported Phillips Idowu for about 12 years - financially, in terms of providing training accommodation, camps, medical support, biomechanical support, psychological and coaching support. We pay the salary of his coach - our coach.

“So I'm perplexed, really, that in the last few weeks before the Games he has turned his back to us. I have no idea why.”

Might the maverick triple jumper be playing mind games with van Commenee and his support staff, perhaps? “You're asking me to look into Phillips' head,” van Commenee said. “That's a challenge. I find it difficult to look into people's heads anyway, but certainly into Phillips' head.”

Asked whether there was a room for Idowu in the athletes’ village, van Commenee said “Yes, I'm sure. There will be a bed for him.”

Might that bed be in a room or in a corridor, someone enquired? “Don't give me ideas,” van Commenee replied.

“Guys,” the Dutchman continued, addressing the media throng, “the sport is so big. The team hasn't been stronger than this for a long time. What do we do? We talk about the Invisible Man.

“Why? This summer we have great athletes. We're ready to go. Nobody interested?”