British long jumper Greg Rutherford is feeling supremely confident ahead of the summer season
Having gone in to last year’s World Championships believing he would win gold before he succumbed to a hamstring injury, Greg Rutherford is as confident as ever coming into Olympic year.
The injury-prone Milton Keynes athlete recovered from the problem that affected him in the qualifying round in Daegu and has now put together a rare five-month spell of solid training.
“In general I’m probably in as good a shape as I’ve been,” said Rutherford, who was 10th in the Beijing Olympics four years ago.
Although he lost custody of the British record to Chris Tomlinson in the lead-up to Daegu, he believed he was ready for something special in Korea.
“Seriously I thought this was going to be it and I was going to be jumping some scarily big distances but again unfortunately my body let me down at the worst possible time and I didn’t get to show what I was capable of,” said Rutherford, who is trying to look ahead positively rather than back regretfully.
“It’s incredibly tough to think I felt that fantastic and then didn’t have a chance to show it, but since I’ve been healthy again I’ve got back in to that shape very quickly and maintained it. Hopefully that will mean as I start competing in the summer, I should open with big distances and take it to an even greater height as we go towards the Olympics.”
It was below-peak Dwight Phillips who took gold in Daegu with 8.45m, which gives Rutherford confidence he can take on the world in London.
“One thing I’ve brought with me since I was a kid is that there’s never been anyone out there that I’ve competed against that I’ve thought, ‘they’re better than me’ and that I’m never ever going to be able to beat them.
“It’s not in a disrespectful way at all. It’s just belief in myself of knowing I can jump much further than I have done.
“Unless someone all of a sudden comes out and starts jumping 8.90m or 8.80m regularly I might start doubting that, but I don’t see anyone who is going to do that so from my point of view I see everyone as beatable.”
Rutherford, who plans to begin his season in the United States in April, says regaining the British record, currently 8.35m, is not a focus for him this year.
“Records don’t particularly matter,” said the 2006 European silver medallist. “It’s about mixing it up for medals and if you’re in those sorts of positions you’ll jump far, which will mean records come with it, but from my point of view it’s all about winning medals and jumping as far as I believe I can jump and I believe that’s far enough to not have to worry about British records any more.
“It’s more about trying to be one of the best of all time in the world. That’s where I’m setting my aims and hopefully if everything goes well I’ll have a chance to do that this year and in the coming years.”