The podium's just a long jump away

Mitchell Watt
Mitchell Watt Ryan Pierse - Getty Images

FORGET about a rainbow, Mitchell Watt is aiming to find gold at the end of the long jump pit in London.

The Queenslander will launch his take-off in pursuit of it in the early hours of tomorrow.

Apart from Watt, eight other Aussies will be in action on day one of the athletics in the Olympic Stadium.

While the 24-year-old world championship silver medallist is the best chance for a medal, he has got to get into the final first. His qualifying jumps start at 4.50am.

Watt has not had a busy year. He has competed only five times, but won four of those events.

He warmed up for London by finishing second in the Diamond League meet in Monte Carlo last month.

Briton Greg Rutherford owns the best jump of the year at just 8.35m, and Watt believes the event will be a particularly tight affair.

"The two Diamond Leagues I won in the lead-up, I only won by 2cm," he said.

"There's maybe a dozen guys in the top 10cm (his training partner and teammate Henry Frayne is one), so it's going to be extremely close.

"I definitely think I can win gold, but I wouldn't be disappointed with a silver or a bronze. I want to be on the podium ... the higher the better."

Two gold medals will be decided today, in the men's shot put and the women's 10,000m. Dale Stevenson is Australia's lone competitor in the shot and ranked 17th. He will probably have to throw a personal best in qualifying (from 7pm) to make the final at 5.30am.

Eloise Wellings will be the only one wearing the green and gold in the 10,000m final at 6.25am.

In the women's discus qualification at 4am, Dani Samuels, the 2009 world champion, will carry the weight of Australia on her talented shoulders.

She will face some stiff competition in her qualifying group from Russian Darya Pishchalnikova and Beijing silver medallist, Cuban Yarelys Barrios.

Samuels' best throw this season is 62.78m - a long way behind Pishchalnikova, who has the world's best this year (70.69m) and Barrios (68.03m).

The other Australians in action are 400m hurdlers Brendan Cole and Tristan Thomas, Youcef Abdi (3000m steeplechase) and Ryan Gregson (1500m).

Topics:  london olympics, longjump, mitchell watt




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