Former Sun Devil Dwight Phillips Captures Olympic Gold in Long Jump
Aug. 26, 2004
ATHENS, Greece - Dwight Phillips, a former member of the Arizona State track and field team, concluded his stay in Athens in grand fashion Thursday night as he earned the gold medal in the long jump competition held inside Olympic Stadium. The Sun Devil long jumper and US Champion recorded a mark of 8.59m (28-2.25), just one centimeter shy of his personal best, to better his finish from the 2000 Sydney games when he took eighth place, the best among the American entrants.
Greg Kraft, the head coach of the ASU track and field team, coached Phillips both in college and professionally and had nothing but high praise for the newest Sun Devil Olympic champion.
'Everyone at Arizona State is extremely happy for Dwight,' Kraft said. 'He has put a lot of hard work and effort into this sport and this is the fruition of many years of work behind him. Being the favorite makes it even more special since the favorites sometimes react poorly to that situation and that obviously elevated his game. I don't think there was a meet this year that he took more than three jumps and the Olympics were no different. He is by far the most dominant jumper in the world as well as the most deserving athlete to win.'
Phillips, who owned the six longest jumps in the world this year heading into the Summer Games, jumped out into the lead right from the start of the semifinals with his 8.59m mark being the best in the 12-competitor field. From there, he fouled on his next two attempts to head into the finals of the event, but was ahead of the second-best jumper, Joan Lino Martinez of Spain, who recorded a jump of 8.32m (27-3.75).
In the finals, after the field was pared down to eight jumpers, Phillips watched as American teammate John Moffit took control of second with a leap of 8.47m (27-9.50). But even with the gold already secured for the two-time Olympian, Phillips, who passed on his first two attempts of the finals, took one more jump for a mark of 8.35m (27-4.75).
Phillips is the seventh Sun Devil male track and field athlete to win an Olympic gold medal and the ninth in the history of the men's and women's program combined. The 2003 indoor and outdoor world champion, Phillips is the first to win a gold in any jumping event for ASU and the third field athlete in as many Summer Games to capture gold, following Nick Hysong's title in 2000. The Sun Devils' gold medalists include Henry Carr (200m and 4x400m) and Ulis Williams (4x400m) in 1964, Ron Freeman (4x400m) in 1968, Herman Frasier (4x400m) in 1976, Ron Brown (4x100m) and Ria Stalman (discus for Netherlands) in 1984 and Maicel Malone (4x400m) in 1996. Overall, Phillips' gold is the 24th in the history of ASU athletics and the 54th total medal earned all-time by a former Sun Devil.
Also set to compete later this week are a pair of Sun Devil sprinters. Current team member Lewis Banda will run in the 4x400m relay as a member of the Zimbabwean national team while former Sun Devil Michael Campbell is set to compete in the same race as he represents Jamaica. The preliminaries of the mile relay is slated for Friday with the finals being run Saturday. The Summer Olympiad concludes Sunday with the men's marathon run and medal ceremony prior to the official close of Athens 2004.