22 AUG 2009 Report

Event Report - Men's Long Jump - Final

Dwight Phillips of the USA celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's Long Jump final in the historic Berlin Olympic Stadium (Getty Images)Dwight Phillips of the USA celebrates winning the gold medal in the men's Long Jump final in the historic Berlin Olympic Stadium (Getty Images) © Copyright

Dwight Phillips became the first man to regain the men's World long jump title and the oldest ever winner of the event as a second round leap of 8.54m was good enough to clinch gold.

The 2003 and 2005 champion suffered a couple of years in the doldrums but has looked like a man re-born this year. The US athlete produced the longest leap for 15 years with 8.74m earlier in the season and the 31-year-old lived up to expectations to land his third World gold.

Behind him South Africa's Godfrey Mokoena, the Olympic silver medallist, added to his growing collection by earning the same colour medal in Berlin with a best of 8.47m.

Australia grabbed their first World Championship medal as 21-year-old Mitchell Watt leapt out to 8.37m one place ahead of his compatriot Fabrice Lapierre (8.21m).

But there was to be no defence of the title for Panama's Irving Saldino, who has looked below his best this season. Three fouls in the final ended his interest as he failed to make the halfway cut.

In each of his previous two World Championship victories Phillips had led after round one and he maintained that positive omen by leaping to an impressive 8.40m.

Australia enjoyed a great first round as first Commonwealth bronze medal Fabrice Lapierre 8.21m and then Mitchell Watt 8.28m occupied the two minor medal positions after round one.

Irving Saladino, meanwhile, who had looked a little sluggish during qualifying signalled with first round jump he meant business. The leap looked in excess of 8.50m but was red flagged by the officials.

In round two Phillips then built on the foundations of an impressive first jump by soaring out to 8.54m in round two to further crank up the pressure in his rivals.

However, if he was expecting an easy ride he quickly had to reassess as Mokoena, the Olympic silver medallist, hit back with his joint second best ever jump of 8.47m to catapult into the silver medal position.

Already at this early stage of the competition two men had jumped beyond 8.34m - the relatively modest distance which won Saldino Olympic gold in Beijing last year.

The only other change in the top six was that Gable Garenomotse of Botswana nudged up to fifth in the overall standings with 8.04m while the pressure was mounting on Saladino as he committed a second successive foul.

In round three Phillips failed to add to his lead, although an 8.37m effort added to his already impressive series. Mokoena added a solid 8.31m to remain in silver medal position but the real drama in this round would centre on Saladino.

Facing intense pressure after two fouls, the Panamanian cracked. His foot landed only slightly over the plasticine, and although it was well over the 7.96m distance he needed to progress a third foul signalled an end to his competition.

Besides a distraught Saldino, America's Brian Johnson (7.86m), Yahya Berrabah of Morocco (7.83m) and Louis Tstoumas of Greece (7.59m) failed to make the halfway cut.

Greg Rutherford endured a piece of good fortune to scrape into the final eight. The British athlete had disputed the fact he was given a foul but despite losing his battle with officialdom he was soon to discover that modest 7.96m was good enough for three more jumps.

A laboured round four produced few sparks, although Salim Sdiri of France moved into the top five with a 8.07m effort. Of the top four the Aussie duo Lapierre and Watt both fouled while Mokoena (8.19m) and Phillips (8.25m) broke the sand with their shortest legitimate jumps of the competition.

Rutherford moved up to fifth in the final with 8.15m in round five but the most significant effort came with Watt who further cemented his hold on the bronze medal with a 8.37m jump.

The final round proved a bit of a damp squib. Only Rutherford managed to produce his best of the day but 8.17m was never likely to advance his fifth place position. Lapierre soared out to 8.20m to add to his consistent series but the top three were all red-flagged meaning no change to the medal positions. 

This meant Watt for bronze, Mokoena for silver and Phillips for gold. 

But it was Phillips who climbed to the top of the podium for the third time and he now surpasses his legendary countrymen Carl Lewis and Mike Powell, who were both two-time winners of this title.

Phillips also now shares the record as winning the most World Championship long jump medals with Ivan Pedroso. Phillips has three golds and one bronze compared to Pedroso's four gold medals. What price Phillips matches Pedroso's winning World Championship tally in 2011?

Steve Landells for the IAAF