Without a big sponsor, Greg drummed up support in his community to pursue his dream. He then earned instant fame by becoming the first Briton to win the Olympic long jump in half a century. He thought he should have gone farther; it wasn’t even a personal best. With humour and humility he speaks about looking for improvement, staying focused and managing pressure.
Long jumper Greg Rutherford won the Olympic gold medal at the London 2012 games and was part of a remarkable treble of golds on the same night that Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis also won.
From a sporting family that saw his great-grandfather play for Newcastle United and his grandfather for Arsenal, Greg had trials as a teenager for Aston Villa before focusing on athletics. He became the youngest ever AAA long jump champion aged 18, a title he defended twice. He also went on to become European champion before injury forced him out of competition.
Competing in the Beijing Olympics, Greg just failed to qualify for the final and the following seasons saw him struggle with injury. His fitness and performances became more consistent in the run up to the London 2012 games and his rivalry with fellow Brit Chris Tomlinson saw them exchange British records and titles.
In London, Tomlinson was narrowly the favourite to perform well, although neither were favourites to take the gold medal. Greg produced an impressive 8.21m jump to take him into the lead in the final of the event, and then bettered it with a jump of 8.31m. He held on to the lead and became the first British man to win long jump gold in fifty years. In addition, his win completed the UK’s best ever single night in Olympics track and field with three wins in the space of 45 minutes.
Taking bronze at Rio, Greg was frustrated to find that he could not retain the Olympic title he won in London. He refused to blame the whiplash that had given him problems with balance earlier in the season, and instead took comfort in seeing his team-mates from London 2012 collect gold medals in their events.
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