HE always said he could do it – and now he has. Greg Rutherford is the Olympic long jump champion.
The 25-year-old’s dream came true during an incredible evening for British athletics at the Olympic Stadium in London on Saturday night.
A fourth round best jump of 8.31m was good enough for Rutherford to win on a night when Great Britain celebrated a remarkable treble, with Jessica Ennis also winning heptathlon gold and Mo Farah the 10,000m in front of 80,000 delirious fans.
Rutherford was also expected to do well, and the man from Bletchley did not disappoint as he finished well clear of nearest rival Mitchell Watt of Australia to take gold on the best night of his life.
Rutherford began with a leap of just 6.28m – effectively a no jump after he hesitated running into a fairly strong head wind.
Fellow Brit Chris Tomlinson was the first to go over eight metres to take an early lead in the competition, but Rutherford was not far behind as he launched himself to a fantastic second jump of 8.21m.
Rutherford then jumped 8.14m as the bottom four in the competition dropped out and the top eight went on for a three further jumps, with the former Denbigh School student going last of the bunch as the leader.
Then came his fourth round best of 8.31m, sparking wild scenes of celebration. His fifth round jump produced a foul, but it didn’t matter as neither Watt (8.16m) or Will Claye of the USA (8.12m) could get near him.
With his gold medal confirmed, Rutherford couldn’t quite compose himself enough to record a sixth jump, but it mattered not as Milton Keynes celebrated having an Olympic champion.