Athletics: Long jump champion Saladino fails to qualify

LONDON Fri Aug 3, 2012 5:26pm EDT

Panama's flag bearer Irving Saladino holds the national flag as he leads the contingent in the athletes parade during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Mike Blake

Panama's flag bearer Irving Saladino holds the national flag as he leads the contingent in the athletes parade during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mike Blake

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LONDON (Reuters) - Olympic champion Irving Saladino's bid to defend his long jump title at the London Games came to a premature end when the Panamanian failed to record a legal jump in qualifying on Friday.

The 29-year-old, Panama's first Olympic champion and also a world champion in 2007, carried his country's flag at the opening ceremony but fouled all three attempts on a cool evening at the Olympic Stadium.

"I had trouble with the wind," he told reporters. "Sometimes it was blowing from the front. Sometimes from the back. But I am not disappointed. I am sure I will be back."

Saladino, who said he had not started training until April after knee surgery, joined 2004 Olympic champion Dwight Phillips in missing Saturday's final.

Phillips, four times a world champion, had surgery on an Achilles injury and missed the U.S. trials, leaving an already open long jump competition even more difficult to call.

Russian Sergey Morgunov, who had the second best jump of the year coming into London, also missed out on the final 12, managing a jump of just 7.92 meters.

World indoor champion Mauro Vinicius da Silva of Brazil and American Marquise Goodwin led the qualifying session with jumps of 8.11 meters and Russian Alexandr Menkov was third (8.09) on an evening when only seven competitors managed over eight meters.

British hopefuls Greg Rutherford (8.08), the world leader, and Christopher Tomlinson (8.06) qualified comfortably with the fourth and fifth longest jumps.

Australia's Mitch Watt, who owns four of the five best jumps of the last two years, was ninth with a jump of 7.97 and will be joined in the final by compatriot Henry Frayne (7.95), who also competes in the triple jump.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, additional reporting by Gene Cherry, editing by Ed Osmond)

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