Triple jumper Phillips Idowu makes 40 minute Olympic cameo

Britain's athletes have a day to regret in the Olympic Stadium

It was casualty time in the unforgiving crucible of London 2012's main arena yesterday morning. Liu Xiang, the fall guy of the Beijing Olympics, smashed the first barrier in his 110m hurdles heat, then hopped down the apron of the track and departed in a wheelchair. Phillips Idowu, the Invisible Man of British athletics, managed a couple of valid hops, steps and jumps but disappeared from the home Olympic stage just 40 minutes after stepping on to it. He did so fearing he would need surgery to put his broken body back together but defiantly vowing to fight another day.

The pity is tomorrow should have been Idowu's day. The Hackney man has been the world's most consistent triple jumper in recent years and an Olympic final next door to his manor would have been a dream opportunity to achieve the gold he missed by just 5cm in Beijing. The trouble is he won't be on the start list, his wing and a prayer mission having come to grief in the qualifying round yesterday.

Idowu needed to jump 17.10m or to finish in the top 12 of the two combined pools, to make the final. It was not to be. In his first competition for nine weeks, the 33-year-old was clearly still constrained by the hamstring-cum-hip-problem that had been the cause of so much intrigue in the countdown to the Games.

With his first effort, the big Belgrave Harrier managed 16.47m. He abandoned his second without making a valid mark.

With his third, he managed to improve to 16.53m but that put him 14th in the pecking order, 11cm short of the cut-off point.

"I've competed for 12 years and I can't remember a time when I've performed that badly," a crestfallen Idowu reflected. "I'm guessing I will need surgery at the end of this season. I'll call it a day and wrap up the season.

"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.

"It hasn't completely sunk in yet. My fourth Olympic Games hasn't gone to plan and now I just have to regroup and prepare for the future."

At 33, that future is unlikely to feature a fifth shot at Olympic gold in Rio in 2016 but – despite the travails of 2012, and the breakdown of his relationship with UK Athletics – Idowu insisted he will not be hanging up his spikes just yet.

"I haven't finished competing," he said. "I don't think you've seen the best of me yet."

There was further British anguish when Andy Pozzi crashed into the second barrier and out of his 110m hurdles heat and when Goldie Sayers, with a strapped and damaged elbow, failed to register a valid mark in the javelin qualifying round. "It's heartbreaking," a tearful Sayers said.

No athlete knows about the heartache of being injured for a home Olympics more than Liu Xiang. The host nation went into mourning when he failed to get down the track in his 110m hurdles heat in Beijing four years ago.

Yesterday he failed to get past the first hurdle, which he demolished in unceremonious fashion. Fenn Shuyong, China's track and field team leader, said that Liu was still suffering from the Achilles injury that struck him in Beijing but stressed: "He is not thinking of retiring."

At least, when the time does come for Liu to move on, he will do so with an Olympic gold. He won one in Athens in 2004, getting his moment of glory in before the ordeal of a home Games.

election 2015The 10 best quotes of the campaign
A caravan being used as a polling station in Ford near Salisbury, during the 2010 election
election 2015The Independent's guide to get you through polling day
David Blunkett joins the Labour candidate for Redcar Anna Turley on a campaigning visit last month
voicesWhat I learnt from my years in government, by the former Home Secretary David Blunkett
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
Barcelona 3 Bayern Munich 0 player ratings: Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?

Barcelona vs Bayern Munich player ratings

Lionel Messi scores twice - but does he score highest in our ratings?
Martin Guptill: Explosive New Zealand batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Explosive batsman who sets the range for Kiwis' big guns

Martin Guptill has smashed early runs for Derbyshire and tells Richard Edwards to expect more from the 'freakish' Brendon McCullum and his buoyant team during their tour of England
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'