Wilson Kipketer and Jonathan Edwards at an IAAF Ambassadors press conference at Moscow 2013 (© Getty Images)
The fifth IAAF Ambassadors Press Conference featured the Triple Jump World record holder, Great Britain’s 2000 Olympic Games champion and double World champion Jonathan Edwards, and Denmarks’s former 800m World record holder and three-time World champion over 800m Wilson Kipketer.
The first question to Jonathan Edwards was about the early exit of his compatriot, London 2012 Olympic Games Long Jump champion Greg Rutherford, who did not qualify for the final earlier today: “Greg Rutherford didn’t qualify for the final and has been contemplating retirement, where does he go from here?”
JE: I didn’t know that he has been contemplating retirement, that’s news to me. Obviously, Greg has had injury problems this year and took a bit of gamble coming here. I have just been speaking to Mike Powell and his view was that I would not have wanted to be sitting home and wondered ‘what if’.
He felt he was in good enough shape to come, of course when you are injured you have to feel your way, I guess he just didn’t have enough jumps. If he would have been in the final, you would’ve seen a different Greg Rutherford in a couple of day’s time. Overall for Greg, it has been tough post-Olympics, clearly the lack of sponsorship has been a big shock for him. You are the Olympic champion and get all the attention and sort of think the money will start flowing automatically, I don’t think it necessarily has been and that has been very hard for him to cope with psychologically.
He has had these injury problems and has been thinking what’s the point of this, but he will get past this and he’ll come back. I’m sure will we see Greg jump next year.
Another question to Jonathan Edwards was: “Many years have passed since that young man was jumping [in Gothenburg at the World Championships in 1995]. Do you find it strange that in a way you are still defined almost by that one day?”
JE: It is an odd thing that whether you are running two laps on the track or hop, step and jumping into a sandpit, these things don’t change anybody’s lives, do they? For myself, although I jumped for my country, being involved with London 2012 was much more defining as a person, because you get involved with something that can change the lives of many, many people. Certainly that day in Gothenburg gave me the platform to be involved with London 2012, so it was a special day.
Another question was about his World Championships winning jump in 1995, the current World record of 18.29m: “Was it the perfect jump?”
JE: It was 11cm behind the board, so it could have been that much longer. My best day though was in Villeneuve d’Ascq two months before (European Cup) where I jumped 18.43m with a +2.4 wind, but the jump was much, much better. I guess that, combined with the technique in that jump and the adrenaline and speed in Gothenburg, I could have gone a lot, lot further, but you know what? I’m happy with 18.29m.
“Jonathan, how do you remember your last competition in Paris 2003 (at the IAAF World Championships)?”
JE: I was injured in Crystal Palace in a Grand Prix meeting maybe three weeks before, I landed half on the concrete and half on the running track and I thought I had broken my ankle and it was horrible. Fortunately it wasn’t as bad as I feared and I was in good enough shape to qualify for the final. I didn’t want to finish my career on a stretcher, being taken off the infield in Crystal Palace. It was important to go on and jump at the World Championships and finish on two feet.
I think I got to a mental state where I believed I could win it and jump a long distance, but the reality was very different. The thing I remember the most was that after two rounds I was lying in 11th or 12th place and I knew in my mind that I wasn’t good enough, so rather than take my third round jump and be dropped from the competition, I decided to do it on my own terms and quit after two rounds. It was very emotional and the end of what had been doing for two decades of my life.
A question for Wilson Kipketer about the 800m final at Moscow 2013: “What did you make of the 800m final last night, obviously no Rudisha and the winning time last night would only have been enough for seventh place at the Olympics last year?”
WK: For me, when I saw the first 200m, I thought this is going to be a fast race in 1:42. The Ethiopians are moving down to sprints, maybe we will see them do something in 400m.
“Jonathan, what do you think about the Triple Jump competition here and what do you think about Teddy Tamgho?”
JE: It’s really exciting that you have two jumpers in Christian Taylor and Teddy Tamgho, who are both at top of their form, I saw them both jump at the Birmingham Diamond League when Christian Taylor jumped 17.66, a season’s best, and Teddy had a foul that was 18 metres plus.
My heart was in mouth very briefly. It was a big foul but still, when someone jumps 18 metres I start to get worried.
Christian Taylor will jump 17.70m, 17.80m maybe here, he’s not in the best of shape this year and Teddy Tamgho, could very easily not qualify for the final with three fouls or he could jump 18 metres, who knows.
Jonathan Edwards then turned to Wilson Kipketer and asked what it felt like to lose his World record after it had stood for more than a decade.
WK: I can tell you that I was in London when Rudisha ran and 15 minutes after the race I was still shaking. To run 1:40.91, 1:40 is really tough, even if he had broken the record earlier in Rieti.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF