Athletics: Rutherford lifts himself with hopes of history

It has not exactly been the best of times for Greg Rutherford. In the week leading up to the Olympic trials in Birmingham, the European long jump silver medallist discovered that his grandfather was suffering from terminal cancer. Sadly, in the early hours of last Wednesday, James Pearce passed away.

"It was only yesterday that I made the decision to come here," Rutherford said, after going ahead with his planned pre-Olympic test of competitive form in the Aviva London Grand Prix. "I've been struggling for sleep and that sort of stuff. I thought I'd come here and aim to win, do it for him." As he had done in Birmingham, the prodigiously talented young man from Milton Keynes did his beloved grandfather proud, recording another 8m-plus victory, this time with a distance of 8.16m.

In doing so, he also fittingly honoured another late family member who made a notable mark in this particular corner of south London. Back in 1910, Rutherford's great-grandfather headed the 82nd-minute goal that earned Newcastle United a 1-1 draw against Barnsley in the FA Cup final. That was at the old Crystal Palace football ground, with 77,747 souls in attendance.

There were 14,000 spectators here yesterday as the great-grandson of Jock Rutherford – the spring-heeled Edwardian football star known as "the Newcastle flyer" – soared to an emotional victory in the track and field arena that stands on the same site.

Jock played on the wing for the Magpies in five FA Cup finals at the old Crystal Palace and failed to win one of them. He did lift the tin pot with Newcastle in 1910, but via a replay at Goodison Park. His great grandson, as naturally gifted as his celebrated ancestor, who won three championship titles with Newcastle and played in the First Division for Arsenal at the age of 41, has already won some silverware at the sharp end of his chosen sport. Two years ago he finished runner-up at the European Championships in Gothenburg.

The 21-year-old Greg's progress since then has been somewhat hamstrung by injury but he returned to form with a vengeance in those Olympic trials in Birmingham, landing an 8.20m jump, just 6cm shy of his personal best and 9cm short of Chris Tomlinson's British record, to secure a shot at Olympic gold in Beijing three weeks from now.

It is to be hoped Tomlinson will have the same opportunity too. The towering Teesside native withdrew hurt from the competition yesterday after registering a first-round effort of 7.74m, ultimately good enough for only sixth place. Thankfully, the early diagnosis of his injury was no more serious than a cramp in his right calf.

As for Rutherford, he might well have gone the same way as his great grandfather. As a 14-year-old blessed with lightning pace he attracted interest from Aston Villa. Jock was a teenage prodigy who made his debut in the First Division aged 17, scoring for Newcastle in a 4-1 win against Bolton Wanderers at St James' Park. He was only 19 when he won the first of 11 caps on the right wing for England.

Greg was 19 when he won his European long jump silver in Gothenburg. His talent is such that his former coach, Tom McNab, once suggested he had the ability to jump 9m. That, as it happens, is 10cm farther than the quantum leap taken by Bob Beamon at the Mexico Olympics in 1968. It is also 5cms beyond Mike Powell's world record.

Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
The Pipes and Drums of The Scottish Regiments perform during the Opening Ceremony for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park on July 23, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland.
Commonwealth GamesThe actor encouraged the one billion viewers of the event to donate to the children's charity
Sport
Karen Dunbar performs
Entertainers showcase local wit, talent and irrepressible spirit
Sport
Members of the Scotland deleagtion walk past during the opening ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games at Celtic Park in Glasgow on July 23, 2014.
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
News
i100
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

BI Manager - £50,000

£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

BI Project Manager - £48,000 - £54,000 - Midlands

£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...

VB.Net Developer

£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...

SAP Business Consultant (SD, MM and FICO), £55,000, Wakefield

£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game