Men’s Long Jump and Triple Jump Previews
Of all the events being contested in Munich, few produce such a nebulous form chart as does the men’s long jump. With the event not part of the Grand Prix this season, many of the jumpers have been forced to compete somewhat infrequently. Certainly, no athlete stands out noticeably from the field.
Jonathan Edwards (Photo: Kiefner)Budapest bronze medallist Petar Dachev of Bulgaria, the European leader at 8.29, also has an 8.25 on his year’s resume, plus another four jumps over eight metres.
Right next to Dachev in terms of season depth is Yago Lamela of Spain, the silver medallist from Sevilla, who has a season list which is only marginally less attractive, as his year best of 8.21 is accompanied by another six over the benchmark eight metres.
Lamela’s countryman, European indoor champion Raúl Fernández, has lately had a busy schedule, with four of his season’s top jumps coming in the last three weeks, including a year-best 8.26.
Chris Tomlinson of Britain made headlines in March when his 8.27 broke a 38-year-old national record of 8.23 by Lynn Davies. He has since supplemented that with a pair of 8.17 leaps, one of them winning the European Cup in Annecy. But the 20-year-old has been inconsistent during the season, as his sixth-place finish at the Commonwealth Games would indicate.
Danila Burkenya posted his season best 8.19 in winning the Russian Championships. A wind-aided 8.35 and three other eight-plus jumps are included in his 2002 dossier.
The oldest competitor in the field—33-year-old Siniša Ergotić of Croatia—has an 8.23, plus a wind-aided 8.25, heading his list of five competitions over 8.00.
A pair of Ukrainians—Sydney bronze medallist Roman Shchurenko and Olympic fourth-placer Olexiy Lukashevich--appear near the top of the European long jump list, both with 8.26. Although each has had only two competitions, they both have backed up their season bests with another jump at eight metres or more, so their presence is certainly significant.
In summary, it is a long jump start list with six or eight competitors all capable of winning on a given day. The challenge will be to determine whose day it will be.
Showdown between Edwards and Olssson
All summer, this event has appeared to promise an eagerly awaited showdown between the top two protagonists, world-record holder Jonathan Edwards of Britain and Sweden’s Christian Olsson, respectively the gold and silver medallists from Edmonton.
Their ability to extract the best performances from each other throughout the outdoor season has been remarkable. Edwards was inspired to jump a (then) world-leading 17.78 in front of Olsson’s home crowd in Stockholm. And Olsson returned the favor three days later in Monaco with a national-record 17.63 (later extended to 17.64) as he pinned a rare defeat on Edwards.
Then came the Commonwealth Games, and a new challenger appeared in the form of Edwards’ countryman, 23-year-old Phillips Idowu, who pressed Edwards to the wall in a most riveting competition. The Olympic champion responded with a world-leading 17.86 in order to secure his first Commonwealth gold ahead of Idowu’s PB 17.68.
Perhaps because he has always competed in Edwards’ shadow, Idowu has been unfairly overlooked. He was a finalist in both Sydney (6th) and Edmonton (9th). But with his performance in the Munich run-up, he has shown he can now challenge the best. Whether he can put two splendid performances back-to-back will be the prevailing question.
After these three, the list of contenders drops off precipitously. The Edmonton bronze medallist, Igor Spasovkhodskiy of Russia, has an early-season 17.39 but not much else of medal mettle. And the 17.43 NR of 21-year-old Greek Konstandínos Zalaggítis at a home competition is likewise seeking a backup mark.
Looking further, one finds no other European jumper over 17.20.
In short, the triple jump offers a thin veneer of excellence at the top, but not much beyond that.