Ginger Wizard Greg Rutherford determined to deliver Olympic magic in London

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GREG Rutherford faces a date with Olympic destiny this weekend – and is vowing to jump further than ever before to win gold for Great Britain.

The 25-year-old from Bletchley will take on the world’s best in the long-jump qualifying round in the Olympic Stadium on Friday night, with the aim of progressing through to Saturday’s final when years of hard work will hopefully pay off with a medal.

The self-proclaimed Ginger Wizard only has eyes for gold though, and going into the London 2012 athletics competition with the longest jump in the world this year, he has every right to feel confident.

The former Denbigh School student shares the world lead of 8.35m with Russia’s Sergey Morgunov, and his biggest challenge for home glory is likely to come from Australian Mitchell Watt and reigning Olympic champion Irving Saladino from Panama. He won gold in Beijing with a best of 8.34m, but Rutherford is confident he can go further once again.

“I’m in great shape and ready to jump very far,” said Rutherford, now in the Olympic Village after missing the Opening Ceremony while at Team GB’s training camp in Portugal.

“I can’t thank everyone enough for the amazing support. Believe me I’ll be giving it my all to win.”

Competing in his second Games, Rutherford is no stranger to the big stage, but London 2012 has been a career in the making for a man who represents one of Team GB’s best athletics medal hopes. He is part of a golden generation of British athletes and has been working towards Friday night since London was awarded the Olympics seven years ago.

“Back then I wasn’t a particularly high level athlete,” said Rutherford. “As much as I saw the announcement and thought I wanted to go to the Olympics, I didn’t really think it would come.

“Now we’re here and I don’t really feel the pressure. We all want and strive to succeed, but in an Olympic event anything can happen on the day.

“There is no pressure like the pressure we put on ourselves. We know we’re going to have a massive stadium behind us and if you don’t look at the pressure side of it then it just becomes massive excitement, and that’s where I’m at now.”

Saturday, August 4, 2012 will hopefully be a date that is etched into the minds of every sports fan in Milton Keynes. Rutherford symbolises everything that is good about the city, and if he does return home with an Olympic gold medal around his neck, we should make sure we have one hell of a party planned for him.