By Ian Chadband
SHANGHAI (Reuters) - - Tennis luminary Andy Murray is not the only top British athlete enthusing about how domestic bliss is improving his game.
Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford also credits a happy arrival with putting new a spring in his leap.
Murray scrawled the message “Marriage Works” on a TV camera after winning the Madrid Open at the weekend, reckoning it was no coincidence he had hit such a rich vein of form since tying the knot in April.
“I can tell you fatherhood works too, it really does,” Rutherford told Reuters in an interview on Friday.
Just as Murray has been unbeaten since marrying Kim Sears, Rutherford has won his two competitions since girlfriend Susie gave birth to their son Milo in October.
“And that’s a record I hope to keep up on Sunday,” said the 28-year-old, who won his first outdoor competition of the year in Manchester and is now preparing to tackle a stellar field in his first major test of the summer in the Diamond League meeting.
Rutherford, Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah fashioned the greatest night in British athletics history when they all struck Olympic gold on London 2012’s “Super Saturday”.
And Rutherford believes victory in Shanghai would be the ideal springboard for his assault on the rare grand slam of Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles.
The 28-year-old’s excellence as a big-time competitor has often been somewhat overlooked compared to the fuss over Farah and Ennis yet only the world championship gold remains on a hit list which he believes he can complete in Beijing.
“I am on the right path to hopefully have a fantastic year because, without a shadow of a doubt, I’m in the best shape of my career,” said Rutherford.
Both physically and mentally. It sounds as if Milo has become his perfect distraction from athletics.
“It’s the greatest thing in the world to me. It’s more about changing his nappies, making him laugh and entertaining him and not obsessing about athletics,” said Rutherford.
“I go home and there’s nothing better than seeing my little one smile and have fun.”
Milo has attended both his dad’s victories but on Sunday, Rutherford's lucky charm will be back in England when he takes on rivals headed by Russian world champion Aleksandr Menkov and 2015 world leader Jeff Henderson of the United States.
(Editing by Ed Osmond)