Four-time world long jump champion Dwight Phillips earned a reputation as one of the sport’s ultimate competitors. The US 2004 Olympic champion passes on three pieces of wisdom he learned during his stellar career.

1. Stay disciplined

“The sport never came as naturally to me as to some of my colleagues, so I understood the importance of being disciplined. I was a late bloomer.

“I definitely saw the benefit of being fully disciplined from my junior year at college. From this year I paid more attention to my nutrition and my strength work in the weight room, and this year from the age of 17 to 18 it made a big difference. I went from an unknown with a long jump PB of 7.28m, to one of the best athletes in the world with a best of 8.18m.

“I was aware that there were kids better than me, so to be as good as them I paid attention to detail and I flourished. To deliver my dreams of appearing in the Sydney Olympics I knew I had to be razor sharp focused, start eating right and trust in my coach. All of that helped me make my first Olympic team in Sydney.”

Dwight Phillips ()

A fourth world championship title came in Daegu 2011, adding to his 2004 Olympic and 2003 world indoor golds

2. Never stop learning

“At the 2000 Olympics I competed purely off emotion and I had very little technical knowhow. So in an effort to be better, I started studying all the great jumpers from Bob Beamon to Ralph Boston and Mike Powell to Carl Lewis, and discovered there was an art to jumping.

“There were things they were doing consistently that I needed to integrate into my performance, if I wanted longevity in the sport. The US had a great legacy in the long jump and I wanted to maintain that legacy, so I studied like I was a student at school and took the same approach to the long jump as I did completing my degree in broadcast communications.

“This to me made a huge difference and definitely contributed to my long-term success and longevity. I came up with different drills that I integrated into my training programme for the next decade. I had total body awareness and I was totally prepared in any situation. Becoming a student of the sport helped me understand the sport better than many of my competitors.”

Dwight Phillips ()

The one piece of wisdom Phillips didn't share was "embrace the sand"

3. Work harder than the rest

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard. To have great performances, I prepared better than anyone in the world. I had a 400m mentality [Phillips came from a 400m background], so I trained like a 400m runner and I think that really helped separate me from the rest of my competitors.

“I felt I could outwork anybody. I trained with all the greatest sprinters and that really helped elevate my performances.

“I knew I was powerful and I didn’t think I could lose to anybody in the world. Where I was different is that I could do the same workouts as a 400m runner but then I would bound, lift weights and then go to the pool with an hour work out. I would do that every single day for nearly 14 years.

“Hard work is the foundation for every athlete – if you don’t have that, you won’t be successful.”