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Saladino Aranda to make history in long jump
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Irving Jahir Saladino Aranda of Panama is absolutely among the favorites to top men's long jump at Beijing Olympics, after he leaped 8.57 meters to win the world champion in Osaka in 2007, and his 8.73 meters leap in Hengelo, Netherlands, on May 24.

His latest jump was a big improvement on his 2005 performance, when he finished fifth. In Athens Games he failed to progress beyond the heats.

A persistent knee injury had relegated him to an also-ran at the Berlin Golden League meeting at only 7.92 meters. The 25-year-old Saladino hopes it will not haunt his Olympic campaign.

Besides, he has to face fierce competition from Italy's Andrew Howe, though both have received a boost with the news that defending Athens Olympic champion Dwight Philips of the United States is only a reserve after missing out at the U.S. trials.

Howe will hope to continue his rise in the sport by winning Italy's first gold medal in a men's jumping discipline. The 23-year-old won the 2004 world junior championship gold, 2006 European championships gold and 2007 world championship silver.

Mohammed Salman H Al Khuwaildi of Saudi Arabia has a good chance of being the only second Saudi Arabian athlete to win an Olympic Athletics medal. The 27-year-old is in confident form, having won bronze at the 2008 world indoor championships and leaping 8.48 meters for a personal and season's best.

The long jump competition began on Saturday at the National Stadium, and athletes will go after the gold medal on Monday.

(Xinhua News Agency August 16, 2008)

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