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Watt eyes big Monaco leap towards London

20 July 2012

ATHLETICS: One big jump in Monte Carlo on Friday night will be enough to confirm for Mitchell Watt that he has enjoyed the perfect Olympic preparation.

The 2011 world championships silver medallist has largely flown under the radar in 2012, with Friday night's Diamond League meet only his fourth on the international circuit.

It's in stark contrast to last year, when Watt broke Jai Taurima's national long jump record before coming up just short at the world titles in South Korea, where he battled a nagging calf complaint and was pipped for the gold by American superstar Dwight Phillips.

Once again, the 24-year-old Queenslander will be the man to beat on the big stage in London early next month - and he doesn't necessarily need to do anything remarkable in Monte Carlo to prove it to himself or coach Gary Bourne.

"I certainly won't be taking all my jumps here," Watt said in Monte Carlo on Thursday.

"It's just to get that run-up rhythm, hopefully get a good jump out early.

"Even if I get a good one in the first round, I might just pull the pin there.

"I pretty much want just one good jump under my belt, however long it takes.

"Hopefully I can get a gauge at where the other guys are at.

"A win would be nice, but it's certainly not why we came here."

Watt will square off in Monte Carlo against many of his toughest challengers, with Germany's European champion Sebastian Mayer, defending Olympic title holder Irving Saladino from Panama and US titles winner Marquise Goodwin all in the field.

There is a logjam atop the 2012 rankings with 11 men - including Watt and countryman Henry Frayne - separated by only 11cm.

The list is headed by Britain's Greg Rutherford and Russian Sergey Morgunov on 8.35m - 19cm shy of Watt's personal best set last year.

Watt expects someone to jump further than 8.35m on Friday night in perfect conditions, even though he's unlikely to be the only Olympics medals contender planning to keep his powder dry.

"This has probably been exactly how I've wanted things to go in the lead-up to the Games," said the laidback Watt.

"If I can jump close to what I did in London last week, 8.30 or something like that which is definitely possible, then I can say my preparation has gone perfectly."

Javelin star Jarrod Bannister is among a growing group of Australian throwers with legitimate Olympic medal chances - a position he can enhance with a strong showing in Monte Carlo.

The competition includes three of the four men to throw more than 86m in 2012, among them Bannister's great near-local rival Stuart Farquhar from New Zealand.

The 27-year-old Australian produced his season's best throw of 83.70m two weeks ago in Paris and is capable of even better this time around.

The other Australian in action at the Herculis meet is Youcef Abdi, who will be targeting Sean Creighton's 19-year-old national 3000m steeplechase record of 8:16.22 in a stacked 14-man field which includes seven Kenyans.

John Salvado

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