The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
Only two men reached the automatic qualifying standard of 17.10 this morning and they both did it at the first time of asking in a competition where 16.62 was the shortest distance since 1988 to make it to the Olympic Triple Jump final.
But the big news of the morning for the 80,000 capacity crowd of spectators as well as all international fans was the elimination of former World, European and Commonwealth champion Phillips Idowu of Great Britain.
The 33-year-old who missed out on Olympic gold four years ago in Beijing by just 5 centimetres had been reportedly carrying an injury since the Eugene Diamond League meeting. This morning marked the return to competition since 1 June for Idowu whose third-attempt of 16.53 saw him finish 14th overall and nine centimetres off the final which will be held on Thursday evening.
"I knew I was a bit rusty but the wind conditions didn't help," explained Idowu. "My hop and step was great but my timing was off. The goal was always to come for the Olympic gold medal so it's a shame that I didn't make it to the final. I have seen the crowd give so much support this week and I accept I let them down."
"I will regroup and prepare for the future, I will definitely go on."
At the other end of the results sheet, reigning World champion Christian Taylor who also holds the best mark in the world this year at 17.63, opened with what would remain the best of the field at 17.21. All that was left for the US champion was to pack his bags and get as much rest for the final which remained his only target here in London after he had to be content with fourth place in the Long Jump US Olympic Trials back in June.
"It was great," said Taylor. "It's such a blessing. My coach and I have worked so hard, it's just a great feeling. I need to save my energy, save my legs for the next round."
Leevan Sands, the Beijing bronze medallist, registered the only other automatic qualifying jump with his first attempt 17.17. The 30-year-old Bahamian competing in his third Olympic Games will be joined in the final by the Italian pair of Daniele Greco and European champion Fabrizio Donato who both failed to reach the automatic standard but confident that their 17.00 and 16.86 respective opening efforts would be enough to advance, they both decided to pass their later attempts.
"It was good," commented Sands. "I had one great jump and that was the plan to save my legs for the final. A lot of athletes have a good chance, but also a lot of people have a problem with the wind in the Olympic Stadium. The one who is better on that day will win the gold."
The third best performance this morning was registered by France’s Benjamin Compaoré, the 2006 World Junior champion whose 17.06 came after his opening 16.82. China’s Dong Bin bounced back from a foul in round one to secure a place in the final with a 16.94 second round step hop and jump and he too passed his final attempt.
There was no such coolness for the second and third best performers of the year who both needed three tries to get it right and book a ticket for Thursday’s final.
Will Claye, the Long Jump bronze medallist a couple of days ago was way off his 17.55 form but a final round 16.87 taking off a full 25 centimetres off the board suggested there is likely to be more to come from the man who also won gold in the Triple Jump at the Istanbul World Indoor Championships.
Claye explained: "I was behind the board on all of my jumps. I had a headwind. I wanted to be safe. I made it through. I know what I have to do, so I just do it."
Lyukman Adams, third on the World season’s list and third in Istanbul too, also needed three goes to secure his place in the final at 16.88.
Nigeria’s Tosin Oke, Samyr Laine of Haiti and Dzmitry Platniski of Belarus also advanced from group A while Pan-American champion Alexis Copello of Cuba was the last one to make the cut from group B.
European silver medallist Sheryf El-Sheryf who had improved all the way to 17.72 in 2011, was the first man off the final at 16.60 as Henry Frayne, ninth in the Long Jump final, was also a casualty of this morning’s qualifications.
Jonathan Silva of Brazil and Cao Shuo of China, who both feature in the World season’s Top 10 also failed to advance.