Phillips Planning Golden Sunset To Long Jump Career

by
Reuters
Long jumper Dwight Phillips postponed his retirement for a year in a bid for one final golden moment and the chance to become the first U.S. athlete to win five individual world championship titles in the same event.

Long jumper Dwight Phillips

Long jumper Dwight Phillips postponed his retirement for a year in a bid for one final golden moment and the chance to become the first U.S. athlete to win five individual world championship titles in the same event.

The defending world champion had hoped to go out in a blaze of glory at last year's London Olympics but an Achilles injury put paid to that so the 35-year-old put his exit on hold.

"I was very inspired by having the opportunity of passing Michael Johnson (400 metres) and Allen Johnson (110 hurdles) and now I'm in a position where I can win a fifth title," Phillips told a news conference in Luzhniki stadium on Saturday.

"I believe I can do it and it's just about going out there and elevating my game.

"Due to the fact I tore my Achilles and I knew I had an automatic place for the world champs this year, I just decided in my mind that I wanted to go out of the sport on my own terms - competing and not injured.

"This will definitely be my last championships," added the experienced athlete who took his first world title in Paris 10 years ago.

"This will be a great time to hang my spikes up. The sport has been great to me and I just want to finish on one last golden moment."

It also will be a seventh consecutive worlds for the Phillips, who made his first appearance in Edmonton in 2001, and, along with 800 metres runner Khadevis Robinson, makes it the most by an American man.

Phillips, also world champion in 2005, 2009, 2011 and a bronze medallist in 2007, is ranked fifth on the all-time list with a best of 8.74 metres.

Olympic champion in 2004, he missed out on the 2008 Beijing Games after finishing fourth in the U.S. trials, with only the top three selected for the team.

Gold in Moscow this week could prove to be a leap too far for Phillips whose best this season is only 7.89.

Competition in the event is tough with the field including Mexican Luis Rivera, who has the longest junp of the year of 8.46 and home favourite Aleksandr Menkov, ranked second in the world but Phillips knows the world championships have always been a happy stomping ground for him.

"When I'm in the final I know how to win, I've done it many times and although I'm not the favourite, in my eyes I am," he said with a smile.