GREG Rutherford was the special guest at Stantonbury Stadium on Saturday as Milton Keynes Athletic Club launched its campaign to find the next... Greg Rutherford!
The 25-year-old Olympic champion has been enjoying something of a celebrity lifestyle over the last two weeks since winning long jump gold in London, and made his first public appearance back in his home town to the delight of around 200 fans on a beautiful afternoon.
Rutherford has appeared on numerous TV shows in the last few days, including Soccer AM on Saturday morning, before he travelled back to Milton Keynes to join in the fun at Stantonbury.
As part of the nationwide ‘Join in’ campaign to build on the country’s enthusiasm for sport after the Olympics, Milton Keynes AC hosted one of around 6,000 events taking place across the country over the weekend.
The event also jump-started the club’s campaign to find the next Olympic champion from Milton Keynes, with special sporting guests Daley Thompson and Sharron Davies joined by TV broadcaster John Inverdale and plenty of young athletes at the track – some already club members and others trying out long jump for the very first time.
Rutherford tried to explain the secret of his Olympic gold winning long jump to the excited children who gathered around one of the sand pits, before various awards were handed out to Milton Keynes AC members for their tireless work in promoting sport and a healthy lifestyle in the city.
Rutherford said the last two weeks had flown by, but that it was good to be back where his athletic career began a decade ago, with so much support from those who knew him before London 2012, and those who have been inspired by his success. And of course, he showed off his gold medal.
“This is what it’s all about,” he said. “The children here have been inspired by the Olympics and to have played a part in that enthusiasm is fantastic for me.
“My overriding memory of that Saturday night was seeing Will Claye fail to better my jump and the ecstasy of realising that I’d won.
“Since then it’s been incredible. I’ve done so much media stuff and the last couple of weeks has been a real whirlwind.
“I’m getting used to being recognised now too. I went into Central Milton Keynes the other day to pick up a couple of things and found myself being stopped every couple of minutes. It was great.”
The occasion was a fantastic success, and the children who got up close and personal with Rutherford will no doubt have been inspired to try and follow in his footsteps.
Unfortunately the national organisers would not allow the media to make Rutherford’s appearance public knowledge before the event, meaning that perhaps not as many well-wishers attended as might have been the case.