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Idowu and olsson back to business in Birmingham

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Phillips Idowu - Launch
17 January 2011 

Triple jump stars Phillips Idowu and Christian Olsson will renew their rivalry, which spans over a decade, when they go head-to-head at the Aviva Grand Prix in Birmingham on 19 February.

The pair, who first met at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000 and have gone on to amass a combined tally of 11 major championship gold medals, will lock horns at Birmingham’s NIA in the final indoor Aviva Series event of 2011.

World and European champion Idowu – who also previously held the Commonwealth, World and European Indoor titles - has a less than favourable record against the Swede, having only come out on top twice in 25 attempts, with Olsson winning the last time they met at Crystal Palace’s Aviva London Grand Prix in August.

The event will also provide Birmingham-based Idowu the opportunity to perform in front of his home fans, while Olsson returns to the venue where he won his first World Indoor title back in 2003.

Idowu, who alongside Parisian Teddy Tamgho shares the baton as world number one, insists a good performance in the west midlands will make up for his decision not compete in March’s European Indoor Championships in Paris.

He said: “Making the decision that I wasn’t going to do the major indoor championships meant that the few competitions that I am allowed to do, I want to make sure that I can go out with a good performance and Birmingham is a chance for me to do that. It’s in front of my home crowd and that’s always a great feeling.

“It’s good as it will give me the chance to go out and straight away test myself against the best jumpers in the world and hopefully open up with a great distance.

“My coach [Aston Moore] is based there, he works at the high performance centre. It was a smart move for me to do a couple of years ago. When we started working together I was still in London and was commuting back and forth to Birmingham but after the Olympics it was just too much work to be commuting up and down the country consistently.

“Basing myself up here and being able to get that 100% attention has definitely helped my performance and my results over the past couple of years have shown that.

“The next 18 months are in preparation for the Olympic games. But before I started training this winter, everything was about the next coming goal, so it would have been Olympics in 2008, then World Championships, then Europeans, now I’m concentrating on defending my world title but we’re also in the two year plan towards the Olympics.

“We’re doing all we can now in preparation for that, all the way through the World Championships to ensure that the Olympic Games is the one we get right.

“I want to go to Brazil [Rio 2016], if things go to plan and if I manage to upgrade my silver medal to a gold then I would like to be competing in Brazil defending that Olympic title.”

Olsson, whose impressive medal haul includes an Olympic gold, a World Championship gold, two World and European Indoor titles a piece, has recently failed to add to his silverware having missed the majority of the last three years through injury after collapsing in training prior to the 2007 World Championships in Osaka.

 

But with the 30-year-old back to full fitness and eager to compete once more, Olsson admits he has his eyes set on Paris and has cited the Aviva Grand Prix as a vital stepping stone in his preparation.

 

He said:  “It was good to be back and competing again last year, and staying relatively healthy throughout the season, indoors especially. Like I said last year I have good memories of Birmingham, from when I won the World Indoor title there and 2010 provided yet another one as I didn’t jump further anywhere else indoors.

 

“Phillips [Idowu] is a great competitor. We have enjoyed a good rivalry over the years and now it’s funny because it feels like we are the older guys in the sport. There’s a new generation coming through with the likes of Teddy [Tamgho] but Phillips and I have a few years left still I think.

 

“The European indoor championships would have been hugely competitive if myself, Teddy and Phillips were all there. Regardless, the Aviva Grand Prix will be really important for my preparation. There’s always a strong field which is the ideal way to find out where you are before you head to a major championship.”

 

For tickets or more information for the Aviva Grand Prix, on February 19 at the NIA in Birmingham, go to uka.org.uk/Aviva-series or phone 08000 556 056