By Kimberly Hubbart, World-Track
MIAMI — Panama’s Olympic champion Irving Saladino believes he can become the first man to hit the fairy-tale 9-metres mark in the men’s long jump, as he seeks to remove one of the longest serving standards in the sport.
Saladino, who owns a personal best of 8.73m, is currently going through his final preparations before the defense of his World Championships title in Berlin, and he feels confident of surpassing Mike Powell’s world record of 8.95m.
“It’s a dream, but it’s possible,” Saladino was quoted as telling a Spanish newspaper.
“With motivation and work we can go even further. Yes I think that we can jump further than nine metres.”
Saladino is set for a keen battle in Berlin with American champion Dwight Phillips, who himself is also a former world and Olympic champion in the event.
Phillips leads the world with a year best of 8.74m, while Saladino best this season is 8.63m.
The pair will also get strong challenges from South African Olympic silver medallist Godfrey Khotso Mokoena, German youngster Sebastian Bayer and Australian Fabrice Lapierre, in addition to several others.