After three poor years – by his standards – and a variety of injuries, Dwight Phillips literally leaped back to the top of the long jump universe in 2009. At age 31 he posted his personal best jump of 8.74 meters (28 feet, 8¼ inches) – the longest jump in the world since Mike Powell broke the world record in 1991. Phillips then proved that his effort was no fluke by winning the 2009 World Championship with a leap of 8.54/28-¼
Phillips’ comeback began late in 2008 when he began training with Loren Seagrave and Life University in Marietta, Ga. There, Phillips’ injuries – including abdominal inflammation and hamstring pain – were healed. Seagrave adjusted Phillips’ running technique and simplified his mechanics off the board. Phillips also changed his diet, losing more than 20 pounds. The result of this work was an outstanding, injury-free season in 2009.
Phillips was the world’s top-ranked long jumper from 2003-05, during which time he won the 2003 and 2005 World Outdoor Championships, the 2003 World Indoor Championship and the 2004 Olympic gold medal. He also won the World Athletics Final in 2003 and 2005 and the U.S. outdoor title in 2003-04. His personal best during that span was 8.60/28-2¾. Phillips was ranked first in the U.S. from 2003-07.
As impressive as Phillips’ 2009 comeback was, an earlier comeback was tougher. At 14, Phillips was playing football in a street when his brother’s friend drove through riding a motorcycle. Phillips veered the wrong way and was struck. The accident left him with two broken legs, necessitating eight months of rehabilitation and a total of two years before he recovered fully.
Phillips was a 1996 high school All-American as a sprinter and jumper – triple jumper, that is. He continued triple jumping at the University of Kentucky but soon began focusing seriously on the long jump. He reached his first Olympic final in dramatic fashion in 2000, jumping 8.13/26-8¼ on his final qualifying attempt, then placing eighth in the final. Phillips won the U.S. indoor championship in 2001, followed by U.S. outdoor titles in 2003-04, 2007 and 2009.
- Height: 5-11
- Weight: 180
- Birth date: 10-1-1977
- Hometown: Decatur, Georgia
- Personal best: 8.74 meters (28 feet, 8¼ inches); 10.06 (100 meters).