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6-4 Idowu no leap in the dark for Beijing gold; THE ROAD TO BEIJING.

China and the United States are expected to carve up the gold medals in the athletics arena, but Britain has one very realistic hope of slipping past the big two.

Phillips Idowu is king of the triple jump in 2008 and the Hackney athlete is Boylesports' 5-4 favourite to hop, step and jump his way to gold at the National Stadium in Beijing.

Idowu, bigger still at 6-4 with Ladbrokes and 2-5 with them to get on the podium, has dominated the event this year and if the formbook stands up, he is a good thing.

The reigning Commonwealth champion jumped a staggering 17.75m to win world indoor gold in Valencia in March and he has the two biggest outdoor leaps of the year, the pick of which was the 17.58m he produced in the trials.

Idowu is on fire and his prospects of glory have been improved further by the withdrawal of defending champion Christian Olsson, who has subsequently and graciously handed the Londoner the title of "the biggest favourite in Beijing".

Jonathan Edwards, Britain's last triple jump hero and still the world record holder with an 18.29m mark set 13 years ago, reckons Idowu "could well become Olympic champion."

Edwards, who will be working for the BBC at the Games, added: "His technique looks more solid than ever and he is in outstanding form. It would be a great privilege for me to sit in the commentary box and watch him win gold."

Idowu's consistency this year is encouraging. He's had three jumps over 7.46m and four years ago it Olsson had been that season's best jumper before being rewarded in Athens with gold, while Idowu, incidentally, fouled out.

Boyles, who have priced up a whole rash of athletics markets, see Cuba's Arnie David Girat as his biggest danger at 9-4 while Randy Lewis from Grenada is 9-2 third favourite and was perceived from a long way off as the Brit's biggest challenger. It's 12-1 bar the front three.

Most observers agree that only a few centimetres will decide it so someone like Slovakia's Dmitri Valukevic, who has a best this year of 7.46m without a breath of wind in his favour, may be worth considering at 12-1.

Men's triple jump - Boyles: 5-4 P Idowu, 9-4 A Girat, 9-2 R Lewis, 12 D Valukevic, J Gregorio, 16 J Sabino, A Wilson, M Karailiev, 18 C Fafana, 20 bar.

Ladbrokes: 6-4 P Idowu to win gold, 2-5 to win a medal, 50 to break world record.

Coral: 5-4 P Idowu to win gold, 1-3 to win amedal, 25 to break world record, 10 to win BBC sports personality of the year.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 26, 2008
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