By Tom Degun
September 15 - Former Olympic triple jump champion Jonathan Edwards today predicted that Britain's Phillips Idowu (pictured), could dominate the sport right up to the London 2012 Games.
Idowu, who leaped to World Championship gold in Berlin last month with a personal best jump of 17.73 metres, is reaching the form of his career with less than three years to go until the Olympic Games get underway in the capital.
Edwards, whose 16 year old world record jump of 18.29m remains completely unscathed, told insidethegames that “Big Phillips” has all the attributes to be the next superstar of British athletics.
He said: "I foresee a golden few years for Philips and by the time we get to London 2012, he would have hopefully got another World Championship gold and maybe a European gold as well."
Edwards thinks that it was Idowu’s silver medal winning performance at the Beijing 2008 Olympics that was the big turning point for the triple jumper.
He said: “I felt Philips’ performance in Beijing was outstanding.
"He took a lot of confidence from that though he didn’t realise it at the time.
"Although he was disappointed at not winning, he actually came away with a silver medal at a major championship which he had never done before and I think we saw that confidence in Berlin."
Edwards feels that although the pressure will be on Idowu at London 2012, he has the mentality to cope well with it.
He said: “He’s hugely confident and very comfortable in his ability to deal with the pressure.
"I think 2012 will be the perfect time for Philips as long as he can steer clear of injuries.
“I have a lot of confidence in him and I already feel he’s proved to himself that he’s as good as he always said he was where as before there was always, for me, a feeling that he was trying to convince himself as much as he was trying to convince everyone else."
Edwards, who won his Olympic gold medal at Sydney in 2000 having won a silver in Atlanta in 1996, predicted Idowu, who appeared naked in a series of adverts last year for Powerade, has the looks and personality to transcend the sport in the same way Usain Bolt has done.
Edwards said: “He can be a real superstar.
"With the way he looks, there is not another athlete out there like him with that level of charisma here in the UK and I think young people will really relate to him.
"He can be one of the real stars at 2012."
Part of the reason Edwards claims, that Idowu and athletics in UK is on the up is because of the arrival of Charles van Commenee, the Dutchman who was recently appointed head coach of UK Athletics.
He said: “Charles is a no-nonsense straight talker and I think he’ll get the best out of the athletes, it as simple as that.
“He will not take any excuses; he’ll be brutal in terms of funding and I think perhaps in the past, where we’ve settled for mediocrity, Charles is creating a culture of not settling for mediocrity.
“Charles is a winner, he deals with winners and he won’t accept anything less.
"He’s sharpened up the attitude of the team and I think that Charles has been really, really good for British athletics."
Edwards is delighted that British athletics is in such good shape ahead of the greatest sporting event on earth.
He said: “It is the opportunity of a lifetime to be an athlete in the UK at the moment, it really is.
“One of the most significant moments I have of competing in my career is not of my own performance, but of Cathy Freemen winning the women’s 400 metres in front of her home crowd in Sydney and there will be a British athlete in 2012 who will experience the same thing, maybe two or three."
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected].