British long jump great confirms European Championships is a no-go after his final competition in the Olympic Stadium
Greg Rutherford was forced to admit defeat in his efforts to compete at next month’s European Championships following his farewell appearance at the London Stadium.
Speaking ahead of his final competition in the iconic venue, the 31-year-old predicted he would “probably be crying more than jumping” at the Müller Anniversary Games. That ultimately proved to be true, as injury prevented a fairytale ending to a story which properly started in the UK capital six years ago.
But, coming out of the competition with a smile on his face, Rutherford was accepting of his fate and enjoyed the moment as much as he could, even though it did also mark the end of his hopes of becoming the first man to win a third successive European long jump title in Berlin.
After being introduced to a loud roar from the London crowd, the British record-holder – who has a best of 8.51m from 2014 – struggled from the start as he opened with a foul and followed that up with another. His third attempt resulted in a mark of 7.55m which wasn’t enough to see his competition continue but he stayed to watch on as South Africa’s world champion Luvo Manyonga finished first with a leap more than a metre further than his own – a season’s best-equalling 8.58m.
“I didn’t have the same emotions that I normally would about jumping badly,” he later told AW.
“My body and I have very much accepted that I’m not the athlete I was 18 months ago. So I could actually properly enjoy it (the competition) and that’s a really rare thing.
“Luvo again had a fantastic series of jumps, Ruswahl (Samaai, second with 8.42m) was jumping amazing, the Americans looked like they were coming back.
“They are all a great bunch and they’re going to push the event on and it’s going to be brilliant from my point of view to watch, enjoy it and know that I had my great success a few years ago and I can now sit back and relax a bit.”
That great success had started in London in 2012 when Rutherford won his Olympic gold on Super Saturday, becoming the first British man to claim the long jump title since Lynn Davies in 1964.
That was followed by world, European and Commonwealth success, making him just the fifth British athlete to complete a “grand slam” of titles in their respective events.
But his decorated career, which also includes an Olympic bronze and Commonwealth silver, has featured a number of injury setbacks and the latest is an issue with his left ankle which will now prevent him from attempting that European title hat-trick.
“Europeans, from my point of view, that’s not going to happen,” he said. “First and foremost, the ankle just hurts too much.
“Probably, if I got a couple of weeks of training in now, I’d make it through qualification. I reckon I could still make a final, but I’m in it to win it.
‘Today is different, this is my farewell, but I’m not going to go to the Europeans.”
Rutherford is now set to compete at the Birmingham Diamond League on August 18 before hanging up his spikes for good at the end of the season.