Relaxed Idowu jumps into final
Monday 18 August 2008
Phillips Idowu justified his position as gold-medal favourite in the triple jump with a brilliant performance to qualify easily for Thursday's final.
Idowu looked incredibly relaxed as he jumped 17.44 metres with his first attempt, 0.34m more than needed for automatic qualification and just 0.14m short of his own world-leading effort this season.
The 29-year-old, born in Hackney near the site of the 2012 Olympic stadium, will now be determined not to suffer a repeat of his disastrous performance in Athens four years ago.
Idowu was impressive in qualifying there but then failed to register a single legal jump in the final to crash out.
Team-mate Larry Achike also qualified automatically with a second-round leap of 17.18m but Nathan Douglas missed out with a best of 16.72m.
Portugal's Nelson Evora was Idowu's closest challenger with a jump of 17.34m with China's Li Yanxi guaranteeing an electric atmosphere for the final with a best of 17.30m.
There were also impressive performances on the track as Martyn Rooney confirmed his emergence as a world-class 400m runner by cruising through to the semi-finals.
Rooney broke the 45-second barrier for the first time at Crystal Palace at the end of July, and lowered his personal best for the second time in three days when winning in Monaco in 44.72 seconds.
The 21-year-old from Croydon then admitted it would be a "bad championships" if he did not at least make the Olympic final, and took an impressive first step towards achieving that goal by winning his heat in 45.00secs this morning.
Rooney said: "The win was the most important thing, to get a good lane in the semi-final. I did what I had to do. I will have to run close to a British record (44.36) to make sure I get into the final.
"It is going to be hard, it is going to be quick. I think I can realistically make the final and hope to get a good lane."
Even more impressive was the display of team-mate Andrew Steele, who smashed his personal best with a time of 44.94s to win heat six, the 23-year-old from Manchester taking 0.37 off his previous best.
A delighted Steele said: "It was a good race. I am very happy with that. The time is not what matters here but I knew I was in the kind of shape to run a personal best.
"I have been doing good training in the last two weeks. It was interrupted up until then - hamstrings, food poisoning etc. But I was running PB's in Macau so I just needed to come here and do the job."
The man they all have to beat, defending champion Jeremy Wariner, also cruised into the semi-finals in a time of 45.23s in the final heat.
Wariner was stuck out in lane nine but powered away from the field in the opening 300m and was able to ease down in the home straight.
The one sour note of the morning came with the news that Alex Nelson had been forced to pull out of the heats of the 200m with a hamstring injury.
In Nelson's absence, team-mates Christian Malcolm and Marlon Devonish both advanced to the second round by finishing second and first in their heats respectively, but all eyes were on the return to the track of 100m champion Usain Bolt as the Jamaican began his bid for a sprint double.
Bolt was considered a 200m specialist before his spectacular performances over the shorter distance this year, culminating in his amazing world-record run of 9.69 on Saturday evening.
And he looked as relaxed as ever as he finished second in his heat in 20.64, again able to casually look around and ease down over the closing stretch.
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