Phillips fights back to reach the pinnacle

American long jumper proves his critics wrong, emphatically

Phillips fights back to reach the pinnacle


Dwight Phillips

Pleased that he had proved his critics wrong, pleased he was back on track again and extremely pleased that he had come face to face with history on a momentous night.

Phillips won the long jump gold medal to connect with a legend of his sport, Jesse Owens, who debunked the Nazi theory of Aryan supremacy with his four-gold feat at the 1936 Olympic Games at the very same venue.

Owens also struck a great friendship with German Lutz Long, after Long helped him in the qualifying rounds with the American in a spot of bother, having fouled two of his jumps. Celebrating their friendship, the medals on Saturday were presented by the Marlene Dortch, the granddaughter of Owens and Julia-Vanessa Long, Lutz Long’s grand daughter.

“Owens has been such an icon for the sport. I had the opportunity to go to the museum and see all the history about Berlin and Lutz Long. That spoke volumes about the type of persons they were. Getting the medal from Owens’ granddaughter was history looking me in the face,” said Phillips.

Phillips, Olympic champion in 2004 and the world champion in 2003 and 2005, had had a rough ride last year, not making it to the Olympics. But this year, he has bounced back superbly with some big leaps.

“The low point for me was going to the Olympic trials and coming fourth. It’s hard to make the team with an injury but I also thought I was superman and there was no way three people in the US could beat me. After that, they’d pretty much written my obituary, the undertaker had taken out my organs. I was dead but today, I was able to rise to the top and I was happy with that,” he said.

Phillips had to reduce his weight and get back into shape. “I weighed 198 pounds (about 90kg) in January. I was pretty big, I made a commitment that to get the best out of me, I needed to shave a few pounds. I lost about 26 pounds,” he said. “I changed coaches at the beginning, going to Loren Seagrave. He really guided me in the right direction and I made a commitment to work hard and smart.”

Mike Powell’s world record of 8.95 metres has been in the book since 1991. Would he like to have a crack at it now? “Today, I felt I was prepared for it,” said the 31-year-old. “I don’t have anything to prove except the world record and I’m gunning for it.”

Bolt gets a piece of the Berlin Wall

Usain Bolt, who created history in Berlin, also took home a piece of history as he was presented with a chunk of the Berlin Wall on Sunday, reports DHNS from Berlin.

The piece of the wall, 3.7 metres tall and weighing 1.7 tonnes, has the image of Bolt on it along with the words New WR.

The Berlin Wall, constructed in 1961, divided the city into two, the communist East Berlin and West Berlin. It was torn down in 1989.

“I will never forget Berlin,” said Bolt, who won three gold medals and set two world records here.

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