Rutherford to host long jump event in his backyard

Reuters News
Posted: May 20, 2016 6:59 AM

(Reuters) - Olympic gold medalist Greg Rutherford is planning to continue trying to set new long jump world records after the Rio Olympics - from his own backyard.

The 29-year-old Briton, who will be in Brazil this summer to defend the gold he won four years ago in London, has built a championship-standard run-up and pit at his home in Woburn Sands, Bedfordshire, and has invited some of the sport's best exponents to a competition.

Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor, Olympic silver medalist Mitchell Watt, IAAF world championship silver medalist Fabrice Lapierre have confirmed their participation.

"We'll do a field of six, after the Olympics. If I don't set the record in my own back garden there is something wrong," Rutherford told reporters ahead of the start of the Great City Games in Manchester.

"My competitors are some of my closest friends and we have a lot of fun."

One person who is not being invited is four-time long jump Olympic champion Carl Lewis who, along with world-record holder Mike Powell, has been highly critical of the sport's standards.

"I don't think I want Carl Lewis anywhere near my house," Rutherford said.

The 52-year-old Powell is planning to attempt a comeback at Rio 2016 but Rutherford dismissed his chances entirely.

"Mike has to be realistic, there are some very good jumpers in the U.S., as much as Carl has stated otherwise. I think for someone of that age, and that amount of time away from the sport, it's not going to happen, that's a fact.

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Rutherford, who took the gold in London with a jump of 8.31 meters, said he wanted his home competition to raise the profile of the sport.

"I want to get funding behind it so the athletes can be paid. I can create something that I feel the rest of the sport isn't doing.

"We are going to get a grandstand for maybe 50 or 100 people, put it right next to the runway pit and have a party in the garden."

(Reporting by Nivedita Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Balmforth)