Missing Olympian

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Mystery surrounded the whereabouts of one of Great Britain’s biggest gold medal hopefuls on Friday as London officials urgently tried to track down “missing” triple jumper Phillips Idowu.

Team chiefs have been unable to contact Idowu since last week, and even his own agent and personal trainer claimed to have no idea where he might be.

Idowu has been locked in a feud with British athletics officials for several years, sparking the extraordinary situation where he had not spoken to Charles Van Commenee, Great Britain’s track and field head coach, in more than 18 months.

Despite his erratic behavior, Idowu has stunned many with his no-show, which Van Commenee described as “bizarre”. Idowu has no yet checked into the Athlete’s Village and will not be allowed to do so unless he reports by Sunday.

Idowu is due to start competing in the triple jump preliminary competition on Tuesday at the Olympic Stadium, fewer than two miles from the London suburb of Hackney where he grew up.

That link to the area, plus Idowu’s silver medal at last year’s world championships in Japan, has led to a swell of interest in the colorful 33-year-old, who is also known for his ever-changing hairstyles and quirky fashion sense.

Van Commenee and Idowu have a serious clash of personalities, and the feud worsened when the jumped missed a mandatory pre-Olympic training camp in Portugal last month.

Idowu’s only contact with his team during the past two weeks has been a few text messages to trainer Aston Moore, but he has not had Moore or another member of his coaching crew with him. Idowu’s family isn’t sure of his location, either.

Newspaper reports in London have speculated whether Idowu will be fit to compete following a nerve and hip injury that led to the British team requesting to be sent details of his medical records, a move that further angered Idowu.

At his best, Idowu is clearly capable of winning the gold medal, but he also is prone to meltdowns. He claimed a silver medal in Beijing four years ago, but in Athens in 2004, he placed 12th after failing to record a legitimate jump, fouling out on each of his three attempts.



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