Phillips Idowu clouds Team GB's golden hopes
Van Commenee has no idea if triple jumper is fit – because they don't speak to each other
Wednesday 04 July 2012
When all of the 'i's were dotted, the 't's crossed and the names of the 77 athletes printed on the British track and field team sheet for the London Olympics – the largest GB squad of runners, jumpers and throwers since the Barcelona Games of 1992 – there were some questions left unanswered. One above all others.
Even accounting for the fluctuation of fitness and form, the team announced by Charles van Commenee – in the shadow of the Olympic Stadium yesterday – looks to be in shape to hit the head coach's long-term target of eight medals, including one gold. What remains an utter mystery is whether Phillips Idowu, the olden golden boy from Hackney, is in any kind of condition to hop, step and jump for backyard glory next month.
The much bemedalled Belgrave Harrier – the 2009 world champion and 2008 Olympic runner-up – has not competed since jarring his foot in the Diamond League meeting in Eugene on 2 June. When Idowu failed to appear at the trials in Birmingham two weeks ago, Van Commenee declined to divulge whether the 33-year-old Londoner was injured, citing "medical confidentiality."
At the team announcement yesterday, Van Commenee shrugged his shoulders when asked for an update. The Dutchman had a very public falling out with Idowu last summer over the disputed terms of the athlete's withdrawal from the European Team Championships in Stockholm. The pair have not spoken since and, even though Idowu's coach, Aston Moore, happens to be on Van Commenee's staff at UK Athletics, the head coach said he had not asked about Idowu's fitness since before the trials.
"He was injured and therefore he did not compete at the trials," Van Commenee said of Idowu, whom, if anywhere close to fitness, would be a gold medal shot. "I said then he is aiming to compete at Crystal Palace [in the London Grand Prix next week].
"Since then, I have not been involved in the Phillips Idowu situation because I had the trials and European Championships and then selection. I have always said I don't communicate with him directly.
"I speak with his coach. His coach is employed by UK Athletics. I'm his boss. I speak to him at least weekly. He's also coach to Tom Parsons, until recently Kelly Sotherton, and Louise Hazel.
"That communication has always been there. From him, I know what's going on. I've been in contact with Aston about Phillips until a few days before the trials. Since then I've been busy. I don't know now."
It was suggested to Van Commenee that it was "amazing" for a head coach not to have enquired about the fitness of one of his major players. "I would find it amazing if I had acted differently," he replied. "If you find it amazing, use that word.
"I am not relaxed. How could I be? Athlete injured. Athlete pulls out of the trials. Last time I had contact about it was a few days before the trials. Since then I have had to select 77 athletes and review about 110. I have had different things on my mind. If it doesn't make sense, it's still my sense."
Was it a difficult decision to select an athlete whose state of fitness was in doubt? "It was not difficult," Van Commenee said. "He's the former world champion and number two in the world last year. He's got a proven track record. His selection does not exclude any other athletes, so it's a no-brainer.
"In the selection there is a policy to deselect athletes who prove not to be fit. At the moment it is silly not to select a man who jumped in early June when he injured himself. That is his decision. If you had a heart condition then it is your right to keep it to yourself. I cannot, and the doctors cannot, break that.
"We will know very soon. He is aiming to compete at Crystal Palace. That's all I know."
The absence of such a consistent medal winner would undoubtedly be a blow to the British team – and would narrow the margin for error on the medal target front for Van Commenee, who reiterated his intention to resign if his team falls short. "If I didn't, I would lose my credibility," he said, "and I could never function without credibility."
Team GB athletics
A Gemili age 18, 100m and 4x100m
D Chambers 34, 100m and 4x100m
J Dasaolu 24, 100m and 4x100m
C Malcolm 33, 200m and 4x100m
J Ellington 26, 200m and 4x100m
M Rooney 25, 400m and 4x400m
C Williams 30, 400m and 4x400m
N Levine 23, 400m and 4x400m
A Osagie 24, 800m
M Rimmer 26, 800m
R Murray 22, 1500m
A Baddeley 30, 1500m
N McCormick 30, 5,000m
M Farah 29, 5,000m and 10,000m
C Thompson 31, 10,000m
S Stokes 35, 3,000m steeplechase
L Clarke 22, 110m hurdles
A Pozzi 20, 110m hurdles
A Turner 31, 110m hurdles
D Greene 26, 400m hurdles and 4x400m
J Green 20, 400m hurdles and 4x400m
R Williams 28, 400m hurdles
R Grabarz 24, high jump
S Lewis 26, pole vault
G Rutherford 25, long jump
C Tomlinson 30, long jump
P Idowu 33, triple jump
M Luckwell 27, javelin
L Okoye 20, discus
B Morse 23, discus
A Buhari 30, discus
C Myerscough 32, shot put
A Smith 24, hammer
D Awde 24, decathlon
D King 29, 50km walk
D Talbot 21, 4x100m
S Williamson 26, 4x100m
M Lewis-Francis 29, 4x100m
R Buck 25, 4x400m
L Lennon-Ford 23, 4x400m
R Tobin 28, 4x400m
Previously selected for marathon:
S Overall 29
D Webb 29
L Merrien 33
A Oyepitan age 32, 100m and 200m
A Onuora 27, 100m and 200m
M Adeoye 27, 200m
C Ohuruogu 28, 400m and 4x400m
S Cox 27, 400m and 4x400m
L McConnell 33, 400m and 4x400m
L Sharp 21, 800m
L Weightman 21, 1500m
L Dobriskey 28, 1500m
H England 25, 1500m
J Pavey 38, 5,000m and 10,000m
J Bleasdale 30, 5,000m and 10,000m
B Parker 29, 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase
E McColgan 21, 3,000m steeplechase
J Jackson 27, 20km walk
T Porter 24, 100m hurdles
P Shakes-Drayton 23, 400m hurdles
E Child 25, 400m hurdles
H Bleasdale 20, pole vault
K Dennison 28, pole vault
S Proctor 23, long jump
Y Aldama 39, triple jump
S Hitchon 20, hammer
G Sayers 29, javelin
J Ennis 26, heptathlon and 100m hurdles
K Johnson-Thompson 18, heptathlon
L Hazel 26, heptathlon
M Okoro 27, 4x400m
N Sanders 30, 4x400m
E Diamond 21, 4x400m
Previously selected for marathon:
P Radcliffe 38
M Yamauchi 38
C Hallissey 29
auctionThe first 23 lots have now gone. But there are 22 more still up for grabs
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