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Watt fit and ready to jump big in London

2 August 2012

Australian long jumper Mitchell Watt was gutted with his silver medal at last year's world championships.

Gutted not so much with his failure to win, but with the heel injury that prevented him from getting anywhere near his best after dominating the rest of the 2011 season.

This year has been more of a slow burn for Watt.

He has only competed five times - winning four of them and finishing second at his most recent outing, the Diamond League meet in Monte Carlo in July.

But more importantly, this time he is fully fit and raring to go for the biggest event of the year.

The qualifying round of the men's long jump is one of the highlights of day one of the Olympic track and field program on Friday.

The event looks wide open, with Watt and countryman Henry Frayne two of the 12 men in the field separated by only 10cm atop the 2012 world rankings.

Watt began the year thinking it would take a jump of 8.60m to win Olympic gold, although those expectations have been scaled back, as no-one has jumped further than 8.35m in 2012.

"I can't believe that the world lead going into the Olympics is 8.35and I can't believe I haven't jumped 8.30 yet," said the 24-year-old Watt.

"My season's best of 8.28 was at a cold and wet Crystal Palace.

"It's nice to know that I had a good jump in those conditions.

"But if it's sunny then that's good too."

Watt is buoyed by feeling fully fit again, a world away from his mindset going into the 2011 titles in South Korea.

"The disappointment was that I had one good jump in me and I just felt helpless out there that I couldn't compete," he said.

"It did stress me out and I've been saying since that night in Daegu that if I could get to London with some good competitions under my belt and in one piece and feeling good then I'd be extremely happy.

"That's where I am at the moment."

Dani Samuels, the 2009 world champion, contests the qualifying round of the discus on Friday while Melissa Breen makes her Olympic debut in the women's 100m.

The other Australians in action on day one of the athletics are shot putter Dale Stevenson, 400m hurdlers Brendan Cole and Tristan Thomas, Youcef Abdi (3000m steeplechase), Ryan Gregson (1500m) and Eloise Wellings (10,000m).

John Salvado

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