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Phillips Olaosebikan Idowu (born 30 December 1978 in the London Borough of Hackneymarker) is a British triple jumper of ethnic Nigerianmarker heritage. He is the current World Champion and World Indoor champion, representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as reigning Commonwealth Games champion representing England. He also won the silver medal representing Team GB at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

He is a member of the London-based Belgrave Harriers athletics club and has been for much of his career.

Despite his successes he has at times been accused of inconsistency and of failing to fulfil his potential. His gold medal at the 2009 World Athletics Championships has gone some way towards addressing these criticisms.

Early life

Idowu was born to parents of Nigerianmarker origin. He grew up in Hackneymarker, in East London, and describes himself as "the clean-cut black guy who used to dye his hair all them crazy colours and who's now got these studs".


Idowu was a talented sportsman at school in both basketball and American football, yet he was most successful as a junior in athletics. In 1997 he came to attention as a triple jumper when he won the English Schools Championships and the under-20s AAA title, rounding off the year by coming fourth in the European Junior Championships.

His success continued in 2000, when he was ranked in the top 10 triple jumpers in the world and placed sixth in the 2000 Olympic Games. In 2001 he won the European Cup, though later that year his form was found wanting at the World Championships in Edmonton. His first major international medal came when he won silver at the 2002 Commonwealth Games, setting a new personal best of 17.68 metres but losing to world record holder and compatriot Jonathan Edwards. Later in 2002 he placed 5th in the European Championships.


A knee injury that required surgery ruled Idowu out of the whole 2003 season. His aim was to return to form in 2004 to compete at the Olympic Games in Athens. Despite his ambition for success in 2004 he failed to deliver at the Olympic Games, posting three no jumps in the final.

Championship success

In March 2006, Idowu triumphed at the Commonwealth Games in Melbournemarker, winning gold. However, he failed to maintain this form and once again finished in 5th place at the European Championships later that year.

In 2007, in the absence of world leader Christian Olsson, Idowu beat compatriot Nathan Douglas to gold in the European Indoor Championships in Birmingham. He recorded a championship record jump of 17.56 m, beating Olsson's world-leading jump by 12 cm. Idowu went on to win the IAAF Golden League Bislett Games in June 2007 with a distance of 17.35 m. By July 2007 he was ranked the number three triple jumper in the world, a new career high.

On 9 March, 2008, Idowu won his first world title, taking the gold medal at the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships in Valenciamarker, Spainmarker. His jump of 17.75 m also broke the Britishmarker and Commonwealth Indoor record previously held by his compatriot and former adversary Jonathan Edwards, who presented him with his medal at the ceremony. Despite his successes at the Indoor Championships and Commonwealth Games, Idowu decided to change coach, switching from John Herbert to 1982 Commonwealth Games medallist Aston Moore. Reflecting on his choice, Idowu stated: "now is the right time to make a change as I develop and move forward".

Idowu won the men's triple jump title at the 2008 British Olympic Trials with a distance of 17.58 m, at the time the longest outdoor jump of 2008. He followed this up with further jumps of 17.57 m and 17.27 m.

Idowu took silver in the men's triple jump at the 2008 Beijing Olympics behind World Champion Nelson √Čvora after arriving at the games as the favourite. His best jump was 17.62 m, achieved in the third round. In an interview with Reuters, Idowu expressed disappointment at having won only silver, though he displayed good humour and also looked forward to the next Olympics in London.

At the start of the 2009 athletics season, Idowu missed the opportunity to defend his European Indoor title as he was suffering from a knee injury.On Tuesday 18th of August 2009 he finally fulfilled his potential by winning the World Championships in Berlin with the longest jump of anyone so far this year and an outdoors personal best distance of 17.73 m, again having his medal presented by Jonathan Edwards.

Personal life

Idowu is known to the public for his mildly eccentric personality, sporting a variety of hair colours, an array of facial piercings and trademark booming laugh. Other than triple jump, Idowu also enjoys basketball. He has a girlfriend called Carlita.

Personal bests

Event Best Location Date
Triple jump 17.73m Berlinmarker, Germany 18 August 2009
Triple jump (indoor) 17.75 m Valenciamarker, Spain 9 March 2008
Long jump 7.56 m Gatesheadmarker, England 11 June 2006
60 metres 6.81 s Carshaltonmarker, London, England 31 January 2004
100 metres 10.60 s Ballaratmarker, Australia 25 February 2006

Competition record

Season Tournament Venue Result Distance
2000 Olympic Games Sydneymarker, Australia 6th 17.08 m
2001 IAAF World Championships Edmontonmarker, Canadamarker 9th 16.60 m
2002 Commonwealth Games Manchestermarker, UKmarker 2nd 17.68 m
European Championships Munichmarker, Germanymarker 5th 16.92 m
2004 Olympic Games Athensmarker, Greecemarker 12th No Mark
2006 Commonwealth Games Melbournemarker, Australia 1st 17.45 m
European Championships Gothenburg, Swedenmarker 5th 17.02 m
2007 European Indoor Championships Birminghammarker, UKmarker 1st 17.56 m
IAAF World Championships Osakamarker, Japanmarker 6th 17.09 m
2008 World Indoor Championships Valenciamarker, Spainmarker 1st 17.75 m
Olympic Games Beijingmarker, Chinamarker 2nd 17.62 m
2009 IAAF World Championships Berlinmarker, Germanymarker 1st 17.73 m WL


  1. "Triple Jump 2009", IAAF, September 23, 2009

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