GREG Rutherford was a very cool customer as he booked his place in Saturday night’s London 2012 long jump final – and says he is confident of finishing the job in style by winning Olympic gold.
The joint British record holder jumped a best of 8.08m on Friday night to ease through the qualifying round, as Chris Tomlinson – who shares his national record of 8.35m – leaped 8.06m to join him in the final.
And with reigning Olympic champion Irving Saladino crashing out after three no-jumps, the long jump is wide open for both Britons who believe they can get on the podium.
Rutherford said: “I’ll be going into the final pretty confident. It was probably one of the best jumps of my life. It’s what I came here to do and it’s nice to be jumping far.
“I came here to win it, I said that from the start. After today’s performance I think I can jump much further. My body feels good and I have the best team I could want around me.”
Russian Sergey Morgunov, who along with Rutherford holds the best jump in the world this year at 8.35m, also failed to make the final 12, managing just 7.92m.
World indoor champion Mauro Vinicius da Silva of Brazil and American Marquise Goodwin led the qualifying with jumps of 8.11m and Russian Alexandr Menkov was third (8.09m) on an evening when only seven competitors out of 42 managed over eight metres.
Rutherford and Tomlinson had the fourth and fifth longest jumps, while Australia’s Mitch Watt – who owns four of the five best jumps of the last two years – was ninth with a jump of 7.97m and will be joined in the final by compatriot Henry Frayne (7.95m).
In the final, athletes have three initial jumps, with the top eight after the first three rounds then having a further three jumps to decide who takes the medals.