Phillips faces tough battle in the great indoors

PUBLISHED: 11:05 05 June 2008 | UPDATED: 13:20 05 October 2010

OLYMPIC gold hopeful Phillips Idowu will make his first appearance of the outdoor season in Greece this weekend in a head-to-head clash with leading rival Randy Lewis. Idowu will return to competition for the first time since winning the World Indoor cham

OLYMPIC gold hopeful Phillips Idowu will make his first appearance of the outdoor season in Greece this weekend in a head-to-head clash with leading rival Randy Lewis.

Idowu will return to competition for the first time since winning the World Indoor championships in March when he appears in the 60th Venizelia at the Chania National Stadium on Saturday.

The triple jump star had shown the best form of his career at the start of this year, culminating in his World Indoor title in Valencia with a lifetime best distance of 17.75metres.

Idowu, a former pupil at Raine's Foundation School in Bethnal Green, was responsible for three of the world's top 10 indoor jumps, while his world-leading 2008 indoor mark was also a British national record.

But the 29-year-old will have to maintain those standards if he is to repeat his 2001 Venizelia triumph and overcome the challenge of Grenada's Lewis, who has also enjoyed some spectacular success in recent months.

Lewis, who will be competing at the Venizelia for the fourth time, has won three successive triple jump crowns in the IAAF Grand Prix series this year, as well as setting indoor and outdoor personal bests.

The Grenadian achieved a significant milestone last month, posting a 17.49m leap to improve on his previous record jump of 17.43m set at the Crystal Palace Grand Prix last year.

The meeting between two of the leading candidates for Olympic glory in Beijing later this year has generated a lot of interest in Saturday's event.

And Venizelia meeting director Sakis Kouvatsos believes the clash between the two jumpers will be one of the highlights in Chania.

"I think that this event will be one of the best in the meeting and we will have a great triple jump competition this year," said Kouvatsos, adding that Lewis faces a tough battle to repeat last year's triumph.

"This year he has to face Idowu, and Kostas Zalagitis, Alexander Martinez and Danil Burkenya are all athletes capable of winning this competition."

The Chania meeting will also represent an early test of Idowu's decision to ditch coach John Herbert just three months before the opening ceremony in Beijing.

Idowu split with Herbert, who had coached him for more than 10 years, to join Aston Moore's training group in April in a bid to improve his prospects of lifting the Olympic crown.

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