The Olympic champion is set to host a world-class long jump competition in his back garden
Inspired by the innovation of the Great CityGames events and driven by his impulsive nature, Greg Rutherford is preparing to host one of the most unique competitions in the history of athletics: a world-class long jump competition in his own back garden.
Britain’s world and Olympic long jump champion had a run-up and sandpit installed in his back garden last year for training but is now planning on putting it to use in a more competitive fashion.
After competing at the Golden Gala in Rome Rutherford dubbed the upcoming event the “Garden Gala”, and told AW: “I built the long jump runway in the back garden. It was expensive, yes and a bit rash. I said to my dad ‘do you think we could stick a runway here?’ He said we could so I thought, ‘let’s do it then’. I’m very impulsive like that.
“I just thought you know what, I’ll get it certified by the IAAF because then I know what I’m running on is legit. Then I thought if it’s certified I might as well have a comp. Get my friends over and have some fun.”
At a time where the sport struggles to rebuild its image, fun is exactly what is needed and is precisely what Rutherford is promising to deliver.
There are also plans to host the event as a joint men and women’s competition, with four of each pairing up and combining their distances, ideas to reward athletes per round and even host a media members competition.
Sponsorship looks unlikely to be hard to come by having received interest from potential sponsors, and the Buckinghamshire-based jumper said he is also exploring the possibility of bringing an alcohol sponsor on board.
“I want to turn it into something that we don’t really associate with athletics. Take what the street events are doing – I love street athletics,” he added.
The Great CityGames events have proven successful since their inception in Manchester in 2009. Rutherford has competed in either Manchester or Newcastle every year barring 2011.
“What they do in Manchester and Newcastle with the Great CityGames, I really enjoy them,” said Rutherford, who won the Manchester edition in May with an 8.20m jump.
“If there were more of them I’d probably do more of them. It may not happen in my career but hopefully in the next 10 years or so you’ll see a lot more of these meets showcased.”
The date for the “Garden Gala” is yet to be finalised but the British record-holder is looking at the end of August or start of September to host the event.