Fabrice Lapierre out of team - then back in
By Mike Hurst
Sydney Daily Telegraph
August 16 2010
WORLD indoor long jump champion Fabrice Lapierre last night declared he would compete at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi just hours after saying he was "tempted to pull out" of the controversial event.
Under pressure from Athletics Australia to clarify his intentions, Lapierre recanted his views after a phone call from AA high performance manager and team head coach Eric Hollingsworth.
Lapierre had said in London yesterday that he was agonising over whether to attend the Games.
"It is in October, which is a really bad time of the year for me, and I am tempted to pull out because I don't know how well I will be jumping in October," Lapierre said.
But with world championships bronze medallist Mitch Watt already out of Delhi due to injury and the pressure of his university studies, Hollingsworth rang Lapierre to make his intentions clear.
In a statement released last night by AA, Lapierre said: "The comments I made in London came across much stronger than I intended. The timing of the Games is not ideal, but the call-up to compete for Australia is most important and I'll be in India doing my best for my country."
Hollingsworth, who will manage more than 70 athletics team members in India, added: "I have spoken with Fabrice this afternoon and he is unequivocal in his plan to compete in New Delhi."
Despite placing sixth at the London leg of the Diamond League at the weekend, Lapierre sits second in the men's long jump race leading into the final round of competition this Friday in Zurich.
The AA team qualifying period for Delhi expires today and the full team is expected to be announced shortly.
But Watt, who also won a medal behind Lapierre at the world indoor championships in March, will not be on the list. He tore an adductor tendon during the qualifying round in Doha and aggravated it taking bronze in the final.
Lapierre has the longest leap in the world this year (8.78m) and third longest wind-legal jump (8.40m).
Although quiet to the point of seeming introverted, Lapierre's extraordinary deeds make him a natural leader and Australia's athletics team needs some inspiring examples to pave the path to gold in Delhi, where conditions are expected to be oppressively hot and humid.
Losing Watt is a big enough blow without Lapierre following him through the exit.