The Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth long jump gold medallist is set to hang up his spikes at the end of the season
British long jump star Greg Rutherford has announced his decision to retire at the end of the season, following ongoing injury struggles.
The Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth gold medallist is aiming to compete at the European Championships in Berlin in August as well as the Diamond League meetings in London and Birmingham before hanging up his spikes for good.
When winning world gold in Beijing in 2015, Rutherford became the fifth British athlete in history – after Daley Thompson, Linford Christie, Sally Gunnell and Jonathan Edwards – to simultaneously hold all four major titles and he set the British record of 8.51m in 2014.
But his highly successful career, which also includes an Olympic bronze and Commonwealth silver, has featured a number of injury problems and the latest is an issue with his left ankle.
“I’m incredibly proud of my career,” he wrote on Instagram. “I’ve achieved so much but retirement comes early to those of us for whom sport is a livelihood. It only feels like yesterday I was winning my first major medal but now 12 years on, I sit here as the greatest long jumper Great Britain has ever had, one of the most successful in European history and someone ready to hang the spikes up for good.
“I’m going to go for the European Championships one final time,” added the two-time European champion. “And then I’ll also be jumping in Birmingham and London for the Diamond Leagues.”
I’m incredibly proud of my career. I’ve achieved so much but retirement comes early to those of us for whom sport is a livelihood. It only feels like yesterday I was winning my first major medal but now 12 years on, I sit here as the greatest long jumper Great Britain has ever had, one of the most successful in European history and someone ready to hang the spikes up for good. • I want to thank everyone who’s had a positive impact on my career (but I’d struggle to name everyone here) Most importantly, the greatest coach I could have ever wished for – @danpfaff. My full potential would never have been reached and that Olympic gold medal would never have been won, if it wasn't for his guidance and input. • I’m going to go for the European Championships one final time. And then I’ll also be jumping in Birmingham and London for the Diamond Leagues. If you fancy coming to watch me compete one last time then please do come on down and give me a wave. It'd be so great to finish with some roaring crowds. • Thank you for all your love and support over the years. It’s been a blast & your kind comments have always given me a push in the right direction. • Grab the @guardian tomorrow to see my exclusive interview with Sean Ingle; we go in to my decision/future plans in further detail there. • @susiejverrill @andrewsteele @aurumsportsgroup @drgerryramogida @andyjburkeuk @melvintann27 @nike … Thank you so much for you help.
Rutherford’s first European title was claimed in 2005, when he won under-20 gold in Lithuania.
One year later he claimed European senior silver before Commonwealth silver in 2010.
Rutherford won his Olympic gold on Super Saturday in London in 2012 when he became the first British man to win the long jump title since Lynn Davies in 1964.
From there, further gold medal success at the world championships, European championships and Commonwealth Games followed.
Injury prevented him from returning to global competition in the London Stadium at last year’s world championships and so far this year his best mark is 7.89m jumped indoors in Glasgow.
“At times I am in so much pain I can’t even sit on the floor and play with my two kids,” he told The Guardian.
“I still feel I am fast. I still feel as if I am super strong. But whenever I try to sprint or jump I have to take three days off because I am limping so much. In the end it wears you down.”
His life after long jump could still include elite sport, however, as he eyes the world of cycling.
“I used to do a lot of BMX as a kid and I’ve been a mountain biker all my life, so the idea of seeing what I can do on a track bike really appeals,” he added, when speaking to The Guardian‘s Sean Ingle. “Of course I am realistic but, given I can produce a very large amount of power on a Watt bike, I want to see what I can do.
“The people I’ve spoken to at British Cycling have not said, ‘no chance’. They’ve said ‘try’. So I am going to do some lab testing.”
In his Instagram post, Rutherford gave thanks to those who have supported him during his career, including his coach, Dan Pfaff.
“My full potential would never have been reached and that Olympic gold medal would never have been won, if it wasn’t for his guidance and input,” he wrote.