Foot injury forces Rutherford to join long list of British absentees
Another one bit the dust yesterday, as Greg Rutherford's name was added to the list of the great and good of British athletics who will not be going for gold, silver or bronze when the European Championships open for business at the Montjuic Olympic Stadium in Barcelona next Tuesday.
With respect to the young man from Milton Keynes who long-jumped a British record 8.30m last summer and finished fifth at the World Championships in Berlin, however, his absence from the Catalan capital because of a foot injury will not come as a major blow to a British team already shorn of such luminaries as Christine Ohuruogu, Paula Radcliffe, Mara Yamauchi, Goldie Sayers and Kelly Sotherton.
Rutherford's form this summer – with a best of 7.70m for seventh place at the Aviva British Grand Prix in Gateshead a fortnight ago – had given no indication that he was capable of emulating or bettering the silver medal winning performance he produced as a 19-year-old at the last European Championships, in Gothenburg four years ago.
Of greater significance to the British team on the medal front could be the well-being of Teddy Tamgho, the 21-year-old Frenchman who has ousted Phillips Idowu from the top of the world triple-jumping tree this year. Tamgho missed the Diamond League meeting in Paris on Friday night and is struggling to recover from a torn calf muscle. He is regarded as a major doubt for Barcelona and his absence would significantly raise the prospects of Idowu adding European gold to the World Championship crown he won in Berlin last summer
Having scooped the world indoor title with a world indoor record leap of 17.90m in Doha in March, and jumped 17.98m at the Diamond League meeting in New York in May, Tamgho would start as the favourite in Spain – if he could get there in one-piece, that is, and also without any great loss of form. A bulletin is expected from the French camp in the next two days and will be awaited with interest by Idowu, 31, who stands second in the European rankings this summer with 17.48m ahead of Christian Olsson, the 2004 Olympic champion from Sweden, who has a best of 17.29m in 2010.
There were other developments of note at the Aviva British team preparation camp at Monte Gordo in Portugal yesterday. News of Rutherford's withdrawal from the GB squad came at the same time as Mark Lewis-Francis and Marlon Devonish were nominated for vacant sprint slots. Both men were originally selected only for the 4x100m relay, the event in which they combined to form the second half of the gold medal winning British quartet at the Athens Olympics in 2004.
Lewis-Francis has now been invited to join Dwain Chambers and James Dasaolu in the 100m, after showing good form in training. Devonish had to work harder for the final spot in the 200m, winning a race-off with Leon Baptiste yesterday. "It's great to get a place in the 100m," Lewis-Francis said. "I feel like this is my second chance."
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