London Eye: A fair rap for triple jump ace who landed in trouble


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The Independent Online

You have to say one thing for Teddy Tamgho: he cannot be accused of failing to take the rap. Last week the troubled young triple jumper was given a six-month ban by the Fédération Française d'Athlétisme, with a further six months suspended, for an unseemly altercation with a fellow athlete at a French team training camp. This week the 22-year-old Parisian gave his response in the form of a rap song posted on YouTube, under the title "Joyeux Noël TDYSTAR".

"You're trying to shoot me as if I were a terrorist," Tamgho sang in his native tongue, directing his anger at the French press rather than his national athletics federation. "I have done nothing serious, just set a small story. The media are riding a wave for me to sink. I do not have time for your nonsense.

"I cracked; it is true. I was at the limit at that moment. I accept the decision of the disciplinary committee. They felt they did what they had to do."

And there were we on this side of La Manche getting all excited about the public spat that emerged last summer between Phillips Idowu and Charles van Commenee. In relative terms, seven months out from the London Olympics, all is now tweetness and light between the Great British hope for hop, step and jump glory in 2012 and the head coach of the GB track and field team.

Idowu turns 33 today and the man from Hackney, east London, goes into Olympic year with a maturity and consistency that bode well for his prospects of getting on to the rostrum in London – even if his fondness for Twitter might not be Van Commenee's cup of Lapsong Souchong.

The Belgrave Harrier has finished in the top two in the last four major summer championships, winning silver at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, gold at the 2009 World Championships in Berlin, gold at the European Championships in Barcelona in 2010 and silver at this year's World Championships in Daegu, South Korea.

Tamgho set world indoor records in winning the world and European indoor titles in 2010 and 2011 but he only has one major medal outdoors – a bronze from the 2010 European Championships.

He missed this summer's World Championships because of a broken ankle.

Having jumped 17.90m or beyond on six occasions, either indoors or out, the young Frenchman clearly has the ability to trump Idowu in London. The Briton has never ventured farther than 17.81m.

However, Tamgho is not the only young gun shooting for Idowu's scalp. Indeed, the 21-year-old American Christian Taylor succeeded in claiming it, and the world outdoor title, with a 17.96m jump in Daegu in August.

Tamgho relocated to Valencia from Paris at the start of last winter and moved on to America a month ago. He is training in Gainesville, Florida, under the guidance of Ivan Pedroso, the Cuban who won long-jump gold at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and who took four successive world titles as a long jumper. The pair met on Facebook.

Tamgho hails from the tough north Parisian suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois. That he happens to be a somewhat troubled soul became clear in October when he is said to have launched an attack on an unnamed female athlete at a French team training camp at Saint-Raphaël on the Côte d'Azur.

Tamgho confronted the 19-year-old over claims she had allegedly made on Facebook about being "the new Madame Tamgho".

Tamgho had already ruled out competing in the forthcoming indoor season before his six-month ban was announced.