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London 2012 Olympics: Jesse Williams goes for high jump gold… then he"ll live the high life

Williams goes for high jump gold… then he'll live the high life

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UPDATED:

22:14 GMT, 6 August 2012

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Jesse Williams is the world high jump champion who hopes to beat Great Britain’s European champion Robbie Grabarz to Olympic gold in London.

The 28-year-old lives life to the full. He nearly didn’t qualify for the Games after coming fourth in the US Olympic trials on his home track in Eugene, Oregon, only making the team because the third-placed athlete, Nick Ross, had not jumped the ‘A’ qualifying standard.

Sportsmail columnist and double Olympic champion Daley Thompson sat down with this ‘social butterfly’ to find out what makes him tick — and how he’s hoping to find more than just a gold medal in London…

Daley Thompson: So, Jesse, explain to me what happened at the US trials.

Jesse Williams: It was very dramatic. I went in with very high expectations but — and I haven’t said this before — I was playing basketball and I rolled my ankle a week before. It wasn’t a bad sprain but it was my take-off foot and it was significant enough to affect my mental side.

Going for gold: Jesse Williams

Going for gold: Jesse Williams

Thompson: Why on earth were you playing basketball a week before the most important date of your life

Williams: I live life to the fullest, man. Last year I played basketball the week before the US champs. I just feel good after it. I’m at a point in my career where I shouldn’t be doing things like that but, at the same time, I think it’s helped me get to where I am. You got to pick your battles, of course. There’s not going to be any basketball before the Games — although I might see LeBron James and see if he’ll shoot around a little bit.

Thompson: At the trials, was that the most pressure you’ve been under in a competition

Williams: Yes, definitely. I feel like this is my year to get things done. Everything’s been going so well — it would have been a disaster for me not to make the Olympic team. That was another thing at the trials: because of the rain I changed who I was. I have to figure out how not to do that. Of course I want great weather in London but I’m expecting torrential downpours, because you have to. We have the technology, these things called spikes on our shoes, and I just need to be able to trust it. If I can do that, nothing’s going to go wrong.

Thompson: How are you at dealing with the run-up to a big competition Some people don’t like being in the Village and seeing all their competitors and stuff.

Williams: I’m kind of a social butterfly and I’m recently single so…

Social butterfly: Williams

Social butterfly: Williams

Thompson: Shall we put that in big letters

Williams: Yes! I look at everything that walks by. I want to enjoy London. I feel like in Beijing I was a little too cooped up. Our training camp was far away and it was boring. I want this to be a memorable experience from start to finish. Of course I aspire to win but I just want to have fun with it.
Thompson: What do you know about our guy, Robbie Grabarz

Williams: I met him a few years ago when we were jumping at Crystal Palace. He’s a really cool guy. He’s European champ now and every time I know he’s jumping I look out for his results. He’s going to be the guy to beat, I think.

Thompson: You think so

Williams: Definitely. He looks unbelievable right now. He’s in his own country and the medal counts from the host country always go up a dramatic amount. He’s going to be ready to jump and that crowd’s going to help him jump high.

Thompson: What kind of height do you think is going to win it Assuming the weather’s good, of course.

Williams: I’m a student of the sport. I know the results from years past from a long time. Atlanta ’96 is definitely the best Olympics the high jump has ever seen and this year could top it. There are a number of guys who could jump 2.40 metres. The Olympic record is 2.39m. Charles Austin’s record isn’t safe, that’s for sure, but I think it’s going to take at least a 2.37m or 2.38m bar to win it. It could even be 2.36m to medal.

Thompson: Robbie’s going to his first Olympics. You went to Beijing four years ago. What kind of things can get in a new guy’s way

Williams: I was just in awe of being an Olympian. I take pride in my country and it was always my goal to make an Olympic team. I feel like I’ve grown up a lot since then. I’m there to win now. Last time I thought I had an outside shot of a medal, but I didn’t even make the finals. I know it’s very realistic that I could bring home the gold medal and, when I’m confident, that’s when I do my best. This is what I’ve been looking forward to since I won the World Championships last year.

Rival: Robbie Grabarz

Rival: Robbie Grabarz

Thompson: Definitely. The Olympics is the greatest place on earth.

Williams: My family is from New Zealand and they’ve always been sports fans, so I grew up watching the Olympic Games from start to finish. I was at the ’84 Olympics. I was six months old and my parents took me. I’ve got pictures of me as a baby in the stadium. The first one I really remember is Barcelona in ’92. The US had some good high jumpers and Javier Sotomayor (who still holds the world record, 2.45m) ended up winning. I was just in awe of those guys.

Thompson: Did that inspire you to become a high jumper

Williams: Yes. But since I was young, I could just jump. I just had this thing for the high jump because I always wanted to test my limits, so it was just the perfect event for me. You feel like you can do anything when you’re jumping well. It’s an awesome feeling. It’s about timing it and doing it at the Games, that’s for sure.

London 2012 Olympics: Phillips Idowu fitness worries over

No injury worries for Idowu as triple-jumper reveals plans to join Team GB in athlete's village

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UPDATED:

13:33 GMT, 4 August 2012

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Phillips Idowu has responded to speculation about his fitness by revealing he is finalising his preparations for the triple jump at London 2012.

Idowu, 33, opted not to travel to the UKA's pre-Games training camp in Portugal so that he could continue treatment on an hip injury.

Idowu, who won a silver medal in Beijing, tweeted: 'I'm in London where I have been for the last few wks, finalising my prep and receiving therapy.

London calling: Idowu says he is on course to feature in the triple jump

London calling: Idowu says he is on course to feature in the triple jump

'My coach knew about this and it has not been a secret. I have to give notification of my whereabouts everyday for doping purposes, so impossible to completely disappear.

'the appropriate people can contact me with ease. there is no story here at all.

'I've only heard about the hysteria about my whereabouts today as I've been on a media lockdown, I'm into the village on Sunday as was planned months ago.

'teamGB have been performing amazingly they need the column inches and adulation for their efforts. positivity GOD Bless.'

Idowu has not competed since injuring his foot when he landed awkwardly in a triple jump competition in Eugene, Oregon, on June 2, though his recent problems relate to a hip problem that flared up at the Aviva London Grand Prix.

Qualifying for the men's triple jump is on Tuesday with the final taking place on Thursday.

On Wednesday, UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee admitted he was 'perplexed' by the decision of Idowu to turn his back on his own coach Aston Moore ahead of the Games.

Perplexed: Van Commenee was unable to explain Idowu's decision

Perplexed: Van Commenee was unable to explain Idowu's decision

Van Commenee was informed by the British Olympic Association (BOA) that Idowu would be fit for triple jump qualifying on Tuesday but remained thrown by his preparations.

'Up until about two weeks ago, Aston Moore was in regular contact and had seen him in training a number of times, but that contact died,' said Van Commenee on Wednesday, having not spoken to Idowu since a row over his withdrawal from the European Team Championships.

'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.

'He's under the wing of the BOA at the moment and we'll support when that's needed, like we always have.

'UK Athletics has supported Phillips Idowu for about 12 years. 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.

'All information we have about Phillips is now coming from the BOA. That information is that he's fit and ready to go.

'Therefore Phillips Idowu is fit to compete and probably in great shape, because that's the sort of athlete he is. I'm sure he'll be a medal contender.'

Steven Jackson frustrated at NFL"s St Louis Rams

Diplomatic Jackson tries to hide frustration at St Louis Rams and ponders his legacy

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UPDATED:

21:58 GMT, 15 July 2012

Running away: Jackson could be a target for a trade

Running away: Jackson could be a target for a trade

Time shreds a man's reputation once the talent erodes and he becomes just another ballplayer.

Steven Jackson is not there just yet. But he knows he is at an intersection in his career.

As the lone star in a sea of mediocrity that goes by the name of the St Louis Rams enters his ninth season in the NFL, the veteran running back is mindful of what his legacy will be.

While uncertainty clouds his mind, he's still sure of one thing: change is an inevitable consequence of playing for such a team.

The 2011 season was a debacle, underlined by a 2-14 record.

Since he was drafted from Oregon State University in 2004, the Rams have not managed a winning season.

For almost a decade, the Rams have been generally hopeless and
apathetic, and Jackson does not want – or deserve – to eventually be
dragged down to their level.

He is about to play for his sixth head coach since being drafted by the Rams.

Jeff
Fisher arrives after 16-plus years at the helm in Tennessee, where he
preached the value of running the ball, turning Eddie George and Chris
Johnson into stars.

Other new faces include offensive
coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, another run-first advocate, while his
position coach is Ben Sirmens, a neophyte in his first season in the NFL
after coaching at Rutgers.

Throw in 10 rookies from the Draft and you have a team seemingly stuck in a perennial rebuilding mode.

Jackson had his diplomatic helmet on in London this week, representing
the Rams in a promotional drive ahead of their Week 8 (October 28) clash
New England Patriots at Wembley Stadium.

He was trying to say the right things, at least.

'So far so good,' said Jackson. 'They [Fisher and Schottenheimer] are both huge advocates of running the football.

They have had successful runners in the past. So I'm looking forward the opportunity to play for those two.

New ball game: Jackson (left) will play for his sixth head coach, Jeff Fisher (right), since being drafted

New ball game: Jackson (left) will play for his sixth head coach, Jeff Fisher (right), since being drafted

New ball game: Jackson (left) will play for his sixth head coach, Jeff Fisher (right), since being drafted

'We just got to build our nucleus we have. We have a very young team. We've had to hit the reset button once again. The grey hairs are growing in!'

But even the British press, whose eyes have long since glazed over by the drawn-out build-up to the London Olympic Games, could see Jackson is far from content.

He's not prepared to be an old handyman pro picking up a pay-cheque and filling in wherever it is most convenient.

The Rams, too, have a decision to make. The NFL system is such that, at some point, players become cost-prohibitive, and the potential production won't match the pay.

If you don't look at age, and instead concentrate upon the level of play, Jackson's seven successive 1,000-plus yards seasons – on a team that has gone a combined 29-73 in that span – warrants every cent of the $7 million he's due to earn over the next two seasons.

But the years on players do matter. The wear and tear always wins.

Three to four years is an average career for most NFL running backs. So for Jackson, the ticking clock is almost deafening.

'The only thing I'm really concerned with now is winning,' he adds.

History repeating itself: Jackson (right) reminds may of Ollie Matson (left), who was a lone star on a bad team

History repeating itself: Jackson (right) reminds may of Ollie Matson (left), who was a lone star on a bad team

History repeating itself: Jackson (right) reminds may of Ollie Matson (left), who was a lone star on a bad team

'That's the goal – to be part of a winning organisation. Hopefully it can be with the Rams. It would be a shame for me to uproot my family after nine or ten years and go and look somewhere else for something at I'm hoping to achieve in St Louis.'

Spoken in hope, his words are laced with frustration.

For while he insists 'my contract is not really an issue', the years of mismanagement, turnover and draft lunacy in St Louis has led to a sad reality: Jackson is in danger of being cast as the modern-day Ollie Matson.

In the fifties, Matson was the lone star on a woeful Chicago Cardinals team for six years before he was traded, in an unheard of blockbuster deal at the time, to the Los Angeles Rams for nine players.

The Rams gambled that a 29-year-old running back would compensate for the decimation of their roster.

They lost.

Matson suffered over the next two seasons with a lack of talent surrounding him.

The 2012 Rams are also gambling on a back who turns 29 on July 22, when they could have taken Alabama's sure-thing running back Trent Richardson with the third pick in this season's Draft.

Health key: Keeping quarterback Sam Bradford upright and on the field is vital for Rams' progress

Health key: Keeping quarterback Sam Bradford upright and on the field is vital for Rams' progress

Jackson half winces at the mention of comparisons with Matson, who epitomised the old football clich that a man's only as good as the guys he's playing with.

'I've achieved a lot individually,' said Jackson. 'At this point I'm thinking about what my legacy will really be. How will it read out No-one really remembers a loser.

'It's hard. You see some players who don't have such individual talent, but they are on good teams. They get noticed and you get overlooked, so you have to deal with that.'

The Rams begin their pre-season schedule on August 12 at Indianapolis, and open the regular season with a road trip to the Detroit Lions on September 9.

With a slate that sees the Rams facing the NFC North and AFC East this season, the youngest team in the NFL with an average age of 25.38 years will have to grow up quickly.

'Losing definitely becomes a habit,' says Jackson. 'But it's not an issue in our locker room because we have so much turnover.

'The things in the past have been washed away. We have a whole new team, pretty much – apart from one or two old faces. So that's refreshing.

'We have a very young offensive line; young, athletic guys up front, and we're hoping and banking on those guys to perform and gel together to be very productive for years to come.

'We have a very young team, one with players who have the potential to grow together and be very potent.

'The biggest thing our success lies upon is how we keep guys healthy.

'We've had a rash of injuries the last few seasons and that is preventing guys from actually getting the game-time experience they need to mature.

'So if we can keep guys healthy, especially our quarterback Sam Bradford, I think we have a good chance in our division to be competitive.

'But the big question is: Am I going to be part of it I don't have a crystal ball. I hope so, I really do – I've carried a lot of days. But I just don't have an answer to that.'

While that may not sound like a direct plea for a trade, the underlying sentiment suggests such a deal would suit both parties. Watch this space.

Pro Bowl plea: Jackson wants the NFL to keep the all-star game at Aloha Stadium, in Honolulu

Pro Bowl plea: Jackson wants the NFL to keep the all-star game at Aloha Stadium, in Honolulu

Keep the Pro Bowl in Hawaii

The Pro Bowl is the NFL's end-of-season all-star game, matching the top players in the American Football Conference (AFC) against those in the National Football Conference (NFC).

Currently, players are voted into the Pro Bowl by the coaches, the players themselves, and the fans.

Each group's ballots count for one third of the votes.

Being a Pro Bowler is considered to be a badge of honour, and players who are accepted into the Pro Bowl are considered to be elite.

Steven Jackson has been voted to the Pro Bowl on three occasions but there was a strong possibility that it would be scrapped because of the uninspired play of this year's 59-41 AFC victory.

Bowl blunder: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (left) has moved the date of the Pro Bowl, which has infuriated fans and players like Jackson (right)

Bowl blunder: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (left) has moved the date of the Pro Bowl, which has infuriated fans and players like Jackson (right)

Bowl blunder: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (left) has moved the date of the Pro Bowl, which has infuriated fans and players like Jackson (right)

The Pro Bowl was held in Hawaii from 1980 to 2009. In 2010, the NFL moved the game to the week before the Super Bowl – rather than the traditional week after the Super Bowl – for the first time, and it was held in Miami, site of the Super Bowl that year.

It meant that the players involved in the Super Bowl could not play. This angered the fans and players.

The Pro Bowl returned to Hawaii for the 2011 and 2012 games but remained one week before the Super Bowl, which still needs revising.

Jackson is pleased that the NFL have decided to keep the Pro Bowl in Hawaii – for the time being at least – and said: 'The Pro Bowl is a huge honour.

'It's football tradition and that's what makes the NFL special, because we have so many traditions we hold on to. And we, as players, want to be acknowledged as being the best.

'While it works if you are playing the Pro Bowl in a Super Bowl city, it's not as meaningful, not as special as going to Honolulu and taking your family and friends away for a vacation, and celebrating what you have accomplished. You can go to Miami any time!

'So without question, I'd like to see the Pro Bowl remain in the Islands. And I think I speak for the majority of players when I say keep it in Hawaii.'

London 2012 Olympics: Philips Idowu pulls out of London Grand Prix with back problem

Idowu suffers Olympic injury scare after pulling out of London Grand Prix with back problem

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UPDATED:

15:54 GMT, 14 July 2012

Phillips Idowu pulled out of the triple jump at the Aviva London Grand Prix – just three days after insisting injury was not behind his long lay-off this season.

Olympic silver medallist Idowu has competed just three times in 2012, with his last appearance coming in Eugene, Oregon on June 1. He struggled to hit top form in that event with leaps of 16.43 metres and 17.05m before a foul in the third round, after which he took no further part in the competition.

Scare: Phillips Idowu pulled out of the London Grand Prix

Scare: Phillips Idowu pulled out of the London Grand Prix

The 33-year-old subsequently withdrew from meetings in Oslo and Paris and the Olympic trials in Birmingham, with UK Athletics head coach Charles van Commenee declining to clarify Idowu's situation due to issues of 'medical confidentiality'.

Idowu claimed on Wednesday he had never mentioned an injury and was happen to let the 'rumour mill stir itself,' but today pulled out of the competition at Crystal Palace just 25 minutes before it was due to start with a hip problem.

The withdrawal of Idowu came shortly after British team-mate Tiffany Porter broke down in tears after finishing last in her semi-final of the 100m hurdles.

I'm ok: Phillips Idowu speaks to reporters, including Sportsmail's Jonathan McEvoy, and says he is over his injury problems

I'm ok: Phillips Idowu speaks to reporters, including Sportsmail's Jonathan McEvoy, and says he is over his injury problems

Porter has been carrying a back injury and looked in pain as she slowed down from the seventh hurdle onwards before finishing in 14.19 seconds, more than 1.5s behind winner Virginia Crawford.

Medal hope: Idowu is a per-Olympic favorite to win a medal

Medal hope: Idowu is a per-Olympic favorite to win a medal

American Danielle Carruthers, who finished third, comforted Porter on the track and said: “She's a little dinged up and she is a little worried because the pressure of competing well and getting a medal in your home town is big.

'I know how that feels to have a lot of pressure on you and I just wanted to let her know that even though things are hurting on you, you have a chance, your body is hurting but it doesn't mean you can't run fast.

'It's hard to get past it when you have some pain but last year at the World Championships my achilles was hurting me bad, a week before I was crying just like her thinking I was out of it, but we taped me up, had acupuncture, pieced me together and I got a medal.'

With Robbie Grabarz only finishing joint second alongside Tom Parsons in the high jump with a best of 2.22m, there was at least some good news in the women's javelin as Goldie Sayers improved her own British record.

Sayers threw 66.17m in the first round to better her previous best of 65.75m, which was set when finishing fourth in the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

London 2012 Olympics: Mo Farah arrives at Heathrow ahead of trials

To be or not to be… Olympic champion Yes, that is the question, Mo!

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UPDATED:

21:40 GMT, 20 June 2012

Mo Farah touched down at Heathrow on Wednesday with his exuberant daughter Rhianna wearing a T-shirt posing the question on everyone's lips. 'To be or not to be'… an Olympic champion this summer

The 5,000 metres world champion flew in for the Olympic trials in Birmingham this weekend.

He is in superb form, having dismantled world record holder Kenenisa Bekele, his main rival for gold in London, in Eugene, Oregon, this month.

Posing the question: Farah touched down in London ahead of this weekend's trials

Posing the question: Farah touched down in London ahead of this weekend's trials

London 2012 Olympics: Top British stars – Daley Thompson

Daley's gold watch: With just 50 days to go, who are the British stars impressing our top Olympics columnist

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UPDATED:

23:57 GMT, 6 June 2012

Fifty days to go until the Olympics start and our track and field prospects are looking really good.

I don’t want to put medals around anyone’s neck at this stage. That’s not the way sport works. No matter what people’s reputations or past performances, it is all about getting it right on the day. But here’s who’s exciting me as we approach the world’s greatest event.

Jessica Ennis

At this very second Jess and Mo Farah would seem our best hopes. I wasn’t surprised that Jess won her only pre-Olympic heptathlon in Gotzis against both her major rivals with a new British record of 6,906 points.

High hopes: Jessica Ennis is one of our greatest prospects

High hopes: Jessica Ennis is one of our greatest prospects

More from Daley Thompson…

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She has wintered really well and perhaps losing to those rivals — Nataliya Dobrynska and Tatyana Chernova — in the past year was a wake-up call. If 44 metres was her worst javelin throw, things are going well. That’s not to say she can put her feet up. She has to think that it will take even more, and prepare in that frame of mind.

Mo Farah

Mo ran really well in Eugene, Oregon, last weekend, winning in 12min 56.98sec over 5,000m — the fastest time in the world this year. But Eugene is not London. It was the aperitif and he must get ready for the main course.

Dai Greene

I know Dai is in great shape. I went to see him in Bath and I like the way he goes about his business. Some people don’t give it their all because they are frightened of finding out the answer. Dai is not like that. He wants to know if his best is good enough, and I admire that.

He just needs to get some racing under his belt after pulling out of last week’s Diamond League in Rome with illness.

Fit and firing: Dai Greene is in great shape

Fit and firing: Dai Greene is in great shape

Adam Gemili

Just 18 and, having run 100m in 10.08sec, he is the fastest British sprinter this year. He looks like he might develop but it’s a huge step to go from being an outstanding junior into a successful adult. Usain Bolt won the 2002 world junior 200m gold medal aged 15 but it took him five years to reach the same peak in the senior ranks.

Mark Lewis-Francis is a cautionary tale. He had the world at his feet as a youngster but he didn’t go on to achieve what he should have done. He did not seem to take it seriously enough. I remember he spent time on motorbikes. You can’t do that if you’re a serious athlete — if only because of the other idiots on the road.

I hope Gemili will keep his head down and work hard. If you do that everything will come. If I were him, I’d just want to run everywhere.

Potential: Adam Gemili must work hard

Potential: Adam Gemili must work hard

He is still raw and needs experience.
Some of that he will learn for himself but he also needs to get it from
those around him. That’s why he should be surrounded by people who have
his best interests at heart, not those who want reflected glory.

The British sprinting scene has been standing still for a decade with the likes of Dwain Chambers, Christian Malcolm and Marlon Devonish, and it’s exciting to think this young lad could be the first of a new generation.

Lawrence Okoye

The dark horse. He is only 21 and has less than two years’ real discus training but he is one hell of a talent.

If he can throw 68 metres at the Olympics — his personal best and British record is 68.24m — then he will not be far off a medal.

But throwing, more than anything else, is about experience: it’s about timing, about being able to relax yourself enough to get a good throw out. It can amount to three or four metres’ difference.

Good shot: Phillips Idowu has a decent chance of gold

Good shot: Phillips Idowu has a decent chance of gold

Phillips Idowu

As with the discus, the triple jump is about applying pressure early. If he was not too badly injured in Eugene the other day and can get a big jump out first time, he’s in with a good chance of gold.

PS

It’s nice to see Christine Ohuruogu and the injury-prone Nicola Sanders back to some sort of form in the 400m. The ultimate target for Ohuruogu is to find an extra half-second to challenge the imperious Sanya Richards-Ross.

Daley Thompson, is one of 12 British Olympic and Paralympic legends featured in ‘Our Greatest Team Legends Collection’, a series of collectable medallions created to support Team GB and Paralympics GB, available exclusively from BP forecourts now. www.bp.com/medallions

US Open 2012: Casey Martin qualifies 14 years after creating golf cart history

American Martin secures US Open spot, 14 years after making history in buggy

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UPDATED:

11:04 GMT, 5 June 2012

All smiles: Casey Martin celebrates after qualifying for the US Open

All smiles: Casey Martin celebrates after qualifying for the US Open

American Casey Martin, who made history in 1998 by being allowed to use a golf cart to play in the US Open, will be back at the Olympic Club in San Francisco next week after winning a qualifying event.

The 40-year-old suffers from Klippel Trenaunay Weber syndrome, a birth defect in his right leg, and successfully sued the PGA Tour in 2001 for the right to use a cart during competition.

He has not played professionally for six years and is now the University of Oregon men's golf coach.

'I don't play golf, really,' said Martin.

'Going back to the US Open It's surreal.

Take a ride: Martin was allowed to use a golf cart to assist him in 1998

Take a ride: Martin was allowed to use a golf cart to assist him in 1998

Golf blog

'I think there will be a lot of attention, but controversy no. We've been through all of that.'

He finished 23rd 14 years ago.

American Ryder Cup captain Davis Love and German Alex Cejka were among other players to make it through sectional qualifiers around the United States.

Phillips Idowu third in Eugene behind triple jump rivals Christian Taylor and Will Clare

Idowu falls short as triple jump rivals Taylor and Clare lead way in Eugene

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UPDATED:

08:29 GMT, 2 June 2012

Phillips Idowu could finish only third in the triple jump behind Olympics rivals Christian Taylor and Will Clare at the Diamond League meeting in Eugene, Oregon.

Briton Idowu, who won silver at the Beijing Olympics four years ago, was on an upward trend with jumps of 16.43 metres and 17.05m before fouling his third attempt.

Sand man: American Christian Taylor beat triple jump riva, Phillips Idowu in Eugene

Sand man: American Christian Taylor beat triple jump riva, Phillips Idowu in Eugene

First place went to Taylor, who sent out a warning shot ahead of the London Games with a world-leading jump of 17.62. Clare was second, 14cm back on his compatriot.

Wilson Kiprop claimed the men's 10,000m, an event which was given over to the Kenyan Olympic trials, in a world-best time of 27 minutes 1.98 seconds.

Third place: Great Britain's Phillips Idowu

Third place: Great Britain's Phillips Idowu

Kiprop will be joined in London by Moses Ndiema Masai, who clocked a season-best time of 27mins 2.25secs, and Bitan Karoki, who recorded a personal best of 27m 5.50s.

There was also a world-leading time in the women's 10,000m as Ethiopia's Tirunesh Dibaba led the field home in 30:24.39.

London 2012 Olympics: Mo Farah to race in Oregon

Farah to step up Olympic preparations with tough test against Bekele in Orgeon

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 1 May 2012

Mo Farah faces a tough dress rehearsal for the Olympic Games at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, on June 2. Racing the world 5,000 metres champion will be Olympic champion and world record-holder Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia.

Big hope: Mo Farah will step up his preparations for London

Big hope: Mo Farah will step up his preparations for London

Masters 2012: Lee Westwood looking for closure – Martin Samuel

Westwood still looking for closure after disappointing second round at Augusta

By
Martin Samuel

PUBLISHED:

22:05 GMT, 6 April 2012

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UPDATED:

22:07 GMT, 6 April 2012

ABC was the process described in David Mamet’s play Glengarry Glen Ross.

Blake, the brutal management motivator sent to shake up the salesman at a failing real estate company, spells it out as his motto. ‘ABC,’ he tells them. ‘A — always. B – be. C – closing. Always. Be. Closing. Always be closing.’

Major tournament golf is like that. Hit the top of the leaderboard on day one and for the next three days, be closing. Nick Faldo was brilliant at it. Tiger Woods, also.

Going wrong: Lee Westwood struggled on day two after hitting the front on Thursday

Going wrong: Lee Westwood struggled on day two after hitting the front on Thursday

Louis Oosthuizen at the Open in 2010 was a masterclass of closure; so too Rory McIlroy at the US Open. Closure is Lee Westwood’s problem. Championships stay wide open when Westwood is at the helm.

So it was at the Masters on Friday. Westwood led from the start, briefly shared with Peter Hanson, even more briefly trailed Jason Dufner, regained supremacy, then caved under the strain.

Westwood’s capitulation on the 18th green was as far removed from closure as the membership list of Augusta National is from the Soromundi Lesbian Chorus of Eugene, Oregon.

He had been impressive until that moment. Just one under par for the day, but enough to stay in command. Few were taking chunks out of the course on Friday. Low cloud in the morning gave way to a fine afternoon, but the pin placings were testing and the bounty miserly.

So Westwood was sitting pretty when he eyed up his final target of the day. A second-shot course, he calls Augusta, and for such a good proponent of the fairway iron, this was a straightforward approach shot. He promptly missed the green badly, left. His chip left 15 feet to save par. His putt lipped out and rolled three feet past. He missed that, too.

Suddenly, a score of such great promise evaporated. Westwood dropped from first to tied fifth in an instant (although that position recovered slightly in time). It was not his ultimate place on the leaderboard that concerned, however, but his stutter under pressure. If Westwood could not close out day two, what chance day four, when it really mattered Green jackets are for closers only.

In contention: Westwood remains a live contender as the Masters enters the final two days

In contention: Westwood remains a live contender as the Masters enters the final two days

Oosthuizen at The Open was breathtaking: five shots clear after the second round, he remained four in front after day three and seven by the finish. In second place, naturally, was Westwood. It is not as if he is unaware of the path to glory. From the moment Oosthuizen hit the front at St Andrews, he was closing. This was the challenge to Westwood. To hold on, to hold off, to subdue the chasing pack with a combination of resilience and excellence.

All is not lost. Westwood trails only by a margin that can be overturned in one hole, and last year’s winner Charl Schwatzel was not even in the top 10 after two days, but it is what Westwood has revealed that has done the damage. Nobody will feel daunted at the prospect of chasing him down, if he hits the front again in the next two days. The pack knows he is vulnerable, that he is a shaky closer.

‘It was a disappointing way to finish, but if you get out of position on this course it can punish you,’ Westwood said. ‘These things will happen to everybody. Henrik Stenson was leading when he took eight on the same hole yesterday. I’m still right in there for the weekend.’

Westwood did his best to act nonchalant all day, shuffling down the middle of the first fairway, hands buried in his pockets against the unfamiliar spring chill. This is his 13th time at the Masters, including a second-place finish in 2010 and it is fair to say he knows the area.

Bunkered: Westwood is among the best players to have failed to win a major

Bunkered: Westwood is among the best players to have failed to win a major

Augusta National suits a player with a strong iron game, one who achieves accuracy to the pin, and going into the Shell Houston Open (March 28-31) Westwood was fifth in the PGA’s proximity to the hole rankings. He might not have been quite as consistent in delivery as Thursday, needed the odd save, and bogeyed hole 11, but he was close enough. A front nine in regulation kept Westwood at the top of the leaderboard, and the numbers looked almost Faldo-esque, with a run of 10 straight pars.

Yet we know the Westwood story by now. It is a familiar tale of almost greatness. He may be arriving from a slightly different direction from Colin Montgomerie, but the stops along the line are the same. Nearmiss Central. Bridesmaid Town. Majordisappointment Junction. Westwood is good enough to have spent time as the world No 1, and his position at the pinnacle in the early rounds of a major is hardly virgin territory, either, but he will know he remains short.

Montgomerie’s legacy was made secure by the Ryder Cup; but only in Europe. On this side of the Atlantic, he is still remembered as a nearly man. American sport is obsessed with statistics and that means strokeplay golf, and majors.

Lee Westwood

Lee Westwood

What a difference a day makes: Westwood was all smiles on day one, but less cheery after his second round

Faldo was a terrible Ryder Cup captain but remains revered in America for what he did as an individual when it mattered in four tournaments. By comparison, Monty’s numbers just don’t add up. Without landing the big one, neither will Westwood’s.

Augusta National demands relentlessness and for much of the day he carried it off. More than likely, in his head, Westwood was running his own version of Blake’s ruthless mantra. Golfers last longer these days, but primarily it remains a young man’s game. Westwood is 38. He will know that Darren Clarke’s first major win, the 2011 Open at 42, is an exception. Clarke missed the cut here. Westwood is just eight years younger than the oldest major winner in history, 46-year-old Jack Nicklaus. Time is running out.

Westwood birdied the 12th and 15th on his way home, but Augusta’s contours and man-traps remain the enemy of closure. One false step sent him tumbling. There is nothing easy about golf’s version of ABC.