US long jump legend Dwight Phillips talks to Ato Boldon for the latest episode of IAAF Inside Athletics.

Every athlete hits a point in their career where they have to make the decision to commit. For US long jumper Dwight Phillips, that point came at the 2003 Birmingham World Indoor Championships.

“You have to make a decision to be as good as you think you can be in your mind,” he tells Ato Boldon. “On my fifth jump I kind of tweaked my hamstring. I was winning, and Yago Lamela, from Spain, passed me on the fifth attempt.”

Do you settle for silver, or would you risk it all for gold? Phillips had no doubt: “I made the decision that [even] if I have to rip the hamstring off the bone today, I’m gonna come out victorious. And that’s what I did – I won by 1cm. But that 1cm changed my whole attitude and my whole approach to jumping.”

He risked everything and came out of it with his first world title. With it, the floodgates opened. Four outdoor world titles and an Olympic gold in Athens followed. His legacy as one of the best long jumpers in history is secure, yet there is one point of regret when he reflects on his career.

“I really wanted that world record,” he admits. “I think that it got away from me at the Prefontaine Classic in 2009. I jumped my personal best into a negative 1.2 headwind.” His 8.74m that day is the fifth best jump of all time. No athlete has gone further into a headwind.

“It wasn’t meant to happen. But hopefully I can coach somebody to that world record. I want to be a part of it in some capacity!”

Phillips says he would stay up studying “six, seven hours at night” in an effort to improve in every area. That made him a hard person to coach – “if it didn’t make sense to me, I wasn’t going to try it” – and, by the sounds of it, an equally tough person to be coached by.

“I’m at the point where I dissect everything,” he says, “I think everybody could have run faster, they could have been more efficient, they could have had better tactics.”

But Doc Dwight is no track crank. Quite the opposite: he’s a athletics lifer. “I just want to have fun and continue to share the greatest sport on this earth.” So do we.

Watch the full episode below: