WITH the longest jump in the world this year under his belt, Greg Rutherford knows he will go into the Olympic Stadium with a bullseye on his back – but after a year of nigh-on perfect preparation, he wouldn’t have it any other way.
A leap of 8.35m in America in May was equalled by Russia’s Sergey Morgunov at the end of June, but has not been bettered – making Rutherford one of the favourites for gold when the competition gets underway next Friday.
In wet conditions at the Olympic Trials last month, Rutherford topped the podium ahead of his domestic rival Chris Tomlinson, but since then he has pulled out of couple of events, most notably the London Diamond League, in preparation for London 2012.
His absence from Crystal Palace sparked some concerns about his fitness, but Rutherford has moved to quash those rumours, insisting that he could not be in better shape to jump a new personal best and British record at the Games.
“I’ve pulled out of the last two events purely just to rest my body up,” said the 25-year-old. “The Olympics are too important to me to risk going around jumping too much and potentially getting hurt.
“I’ve done eight competitions already this year. I have been jumping pretty well, so I’ve done enough, and done what I needed to do.
“I was a finalist at Beijing and I have got to go one better than that in London. My aim for the whole season has been to go out there and try to win the Olympics. It’s like any competition I go into – I aim to win.
“I will be going in with a world lead score which pins a target to my chest and everyone will be wanting to beat me, so I will just have to go through the same process that I have been doing all year.”
In jumping 8.35m, Rutherford equalled the British national record that he now shares with perennial rival Tomlinson, who has finally started to show some form after a slow start to the season. But the Bletchley man insists it’s medals rather than records that really motivate him.
“It’s more about the medals for me. I’m not too worried about breaking records. To win a gold medal you are going to have to jump pretty far, but I think that is possible for me.
“It’s hard to say if I need to break the record again to win a medal. I’ve jumped 8.35m this year so I’m the world lead at the moment, so it’s a tough one.
“Who knows what people will do, but you know that they’re going to raise their game at the Olympics. We will probably see one or two people jump quite far and I aim to be one of them.
“It will be a really interesting competition. It’s probably the most open competition at the Olympics. There are a cluster of people jumping around the 8.30 mark and there’s a few below that as well, so it really could be anyone’s day.
“It’s a massive bonus for me having been to an Olympics and other major international tournaments. This time I’m a bit older, a bit wiser and I think that will only benefit me.
“I’ve matured through more competitions over the last four years. You understand the process of the event and everything else about it.”