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Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Wednesday, 20 May 2009 13:38 UK

Idowu sets sights on world glory

By Mark Ashenden

Phillips Idowu
The Londoner slips into the new kit ahead of the 2009 season

Triple jumper Phillips Idowu has tried to play down his rivalry with Olympic champion Nelson Evora as he prepares for August's World Championships.

The 30-year-old silver medallist is fit again and has finally settled into his new base in Birmingham.

"The triple jump in Beijing was really exciting. I have taken my hat off to Nelson - I jumped the best I had all summer and so did he," Idowu said.

"But I just focus on myself - not on rivals. That is just unhealthy."

Losing out on Olympic gold by only 5cm to Portugal's Evora was a painful experience for the Londoner, but having viewed his Olympic performance on TV for the first time three weeks ago, it seems the hurt is fading fast.

"Everyone tells me I am jumping better than last year and I'm feeling good. It is all going really well," Idowu said, currently in Italy for warm-weather training.

It has been 14 months of huge transition for Idowu. His hair has changed from blonde to red, coach John Herbert was replaced by Aston Moore a year ago, his training base has moved from London to Birmingham, while UK Athletics recently appointed Charles van Commenee as its new head coach.

Mark A

Idowu, speaking ahead of the GB & NI team kit launch, decided to move to Birmingham after the Olympics - something he is now comfortable with, despite initially finding it difficult to train in "dingy" conditions.

"I'm born and bred in London and it's hard to take that out of me but you have to be professional" the Belgrave Harrier added. "I'm there to improve and make the most of the situation and it's working out really well."

Idowu revealed he is "running fast, jumping far and strong", despite his timing needing a slight tweak, and improvements are continuing with the help of his coach.

He linked up with Moore five months before last year's Olympics and Idowu said: "Things are good. I'm slowly doing what he wants me to do technically and he's slowly accepting what I do best.

Phillips Idowu and Nelson Evora
Idowu and Evora could be going head-to-head again in Berlin

"He lets me do what I want to do. I can jump, run and go a long way but in order to make massive improvements, he has to tidy me up and make me more efficient."

With the Berlin World Championships three months away, preceded by the trials and the London Grand Prix, Idowu has been torn over how to prioritise the summer.

For an athlete who believes "winning is everything", Idowu's instinct is to blast all opposition away, with another option to "take the pressure off and focus on just the Worlds".

Idowu admitted the second option would be hard. "Any loss will annoy and bug me," he said. "Even losing once and then winning World gold would still grate me."

Uppermost in the mind of this wiser, more experienced, battle-hardened athlete is his health, having missed all of 2003 with knee surgery and scans after Beijing showing he had jumped with stress fractures on his spine.

"In the build-up to Berlin my main priority is to be injury free," he said. "Then the plan is to do what I did in 2008 and compete well, jump consistently and pick up medals.

"I'm just making sure I stay in one piece. I was able to do that last year and it's the same this year and hopefully it will be the same for the next three years."

Idowu is respectful but unconcerned about recent leaps by Cubans Alexis Copello (17.69m) and Yoandis Betanzos (17.65m) and is ready to make his own mark.

"Many athletes say it's tough after an Olympics but this is my job. Every time I step on to the track just reignites me.

"I want to be the best and I train as though I'm not - even though in my head I see myself as the best. There is always someone out there better than me or coming up to take my place so I've got to keep working hard.

"Missing the indoor season has burnt a little flame under my bum because I just want to get out there."

Jumping masterclass with Phillips Idowu

see also
Idowu 'may have quit before 2012'
15 Jan 09 |  Athletics
Idowu sets sights on London 2012
22 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Idowu takes silver behind Evora
21 Aug 08 |  Athletics
Idowu's best not good enough
21 Aug 08 |  Beijing 2008
Idowu not fazed by favourite tag
23 Jul 08 |  Athletics
Find your local athletics club
13 Oct 05 |  Get Involved

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