Four years ago world number one triple jumper Phillips Idowu narrowly missed out on Olympic gold as he took silver with a leap of 17.62 metres in Beijing. His jump was just five centi-metres shorter than the winning effort of 17.67 by Portugal's Nelson Evora in a thrilling final. Back then he was already looking forward to this year's games: "I really wanted to go to the London Olympics as a defending champion. I'm a winner, I don't want to be content with silver. I will go on - I've just got to keep improving."
He did just that as he won the world championships in Berlin the following year in fine style with a jump of 17.73. This confirmed his status as the world's best in the event and the enigmatic athlete continued to dominate over the following couple of years. He set a new personal best of 17.81 in Barcelona the next summer as he stormed the European Championships in stunning fashion. Yet again, he went into the Daegu World Championships as one of the favourites and took silver as he consolidated his place as one of the world's best.
After his world championship gold in 2009 he said: "I've had a lot of injuries through my career. The last world champs I had a serious back problem and I was surprised to even go there and take all six jumps. Before then I had to miss Helsinki and Paris through injury. It's nice to actually go to a world champs and do what I should have been doing years ago." However Idowu had been suffering from a trapped nerve in the build-up to the Games and then withdrew from the Crystal Palace meet in July after feeling a tightness in his hip in the warm-up.
Despite all his injury problems he baffled many when he decided to split from his coach Aston Moore just weeks before the Olympics. He decided not to join the rest of Team GB on their training camp in Portugal even though Moore was there. He did not even stay in contact with head GB athletics coach Charles van Commenee who said that he did not even know where Idowu was and blasted his preparation: "Phillips decided not to join the team (in Portugal) and by definition in my eyes he compromises his preparation. I find it bizarre. Aston finds it bizarre." The British Olympic Association kept in contact with Idowu but the triple-jumper was angered when they asked him for his medical records.
Van Commenee went on to say that he found it bizarre that Idowu would turn his back on the association that had supported him for so many years: "UK Athletics has supported Phillips Idowu for about 12 years, financially for a big part of those 12 years in terms of providing training accommodation, camps, medical support, psychological support, bio-mechanical support and coaching support. We pay the salary of his coach, our coach, so I'm perplexed that the last two weeks before the Games he turns his back on us, and I've got no idea why."
It is still unclear as to the exact reason the 33-year-old chose to ignore UK Athletics but he went into the Games insisting that he would challenge for a medal. However he hadn't competed for over two months and hadn't been in full training for three weeks. Injury doubts were not at all quashed today as he failed to jump over 17 metres in his three jumps, fouling in his second jump and not even qualifying for the final. Afterwards he admitted to not being fully fit as he said: "I've managed to go to major champs and pick up medals. This year I wasn't at my best but still thought I could produce. Had nerve pain in my body. My physio and me decided it would be best for me to stay in UK."
At the age of 33 he was the oldest athlete in the field and this may turn out to have been his last major championship and was almost certainly his final Olympics. Some of his decisions in the build-up have been questioned amidst serious injury concerns and now he will have to make do with an eighth place finish when it could have been a whole lot better.