Rutherford comes good and takes surprise gold in long jump

After years of illness and injury virtual unknown takes Britain's first men's long jump title since 1964

The nation was still applauding Jessica Ennis's triumph when Greg Rutherford, a virtually unknown athlete who considered quitting athletics after the last Olympics, jumped into the record books, claiming Britain's first long jump gold medal in nearly half a century.

It is a measure of the extraordinary success for Team GB yesterday that what should have been an amazing achievement was just one more win at the Olympic Stadium.

The 25-year-old undoubtedly drew inspiration from the deafening applause to jump 8.31m and claim Britain's 13th gold medal of the Games. His jump was 15cm longer than that of Australia's Mitch Watt in second (8.16m) and the American Will Claye in third (8.12m).

His feat is all the more remarkable because Britain has not won gold in the men's long jump since Lynn Davies in 1964.

The gold medal marks an extraordinary comeback for the man from Milton Keynes whose last Olympic outing was somewhat unremarkable: he finished 10th in the Olympic final ending up in the back of an ambulance the following day and on the verge of quitting athletics altogether.

Last night, he said: "I knew I was in great shape. My team are incredible and I have the most amazing parents and beautiful girlfriend in the world. I've got a pretty good life, and everybody has worked so hard for me.

"I thought I would jump further, but I don't care. I'm Olympic champion. What a night for British athletics: three gold medals. I can't thank everyone enough.

"This is what I have dreamed of my whole life and to do it in London is just incredible, I might wake up in a minute."

Those who know Rutherford best will argue that this moment has been on the cards for some time. A Commonwealth silver medallist, he has worked on his technique in recent years but went out in the qualifying round of the World Championships in Daegu with a torn hamstring. In an interview earlier this week, he said: "I expect nothing less than winning a medal. I'd be devastated to come away without one – it would make my year a complete disaster, no matter what I did before or afterwards."

He was just 19 when he jumped 8.27m and, that year, won silver at the European Championships in 2006. But the following few seasons were plagued by illness, catching tonsilitis eight times in one year, and injury.

In 2008, just as he thought he was finally returning to form, tragedy struck, as his grandfather was diagnosed with terminal cancer a week before the UK trials. Promising his grandfather that he would do his best, he managed a jump of 8.20m to send him to Beijing.

Last night he could finally close the chapter on his struggles.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Suited and booted in the Lanvin show at the Paris menswear collections
fashionParis Fashion Week
Arts and Entertainment
Kara Tointon and Jeremy Piven star in Mr Selfridge
tvActress Kara Tointon on what to expect from Series 3
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
An asteroid is set to pass so close to Earth it will be visible with binoculars
news
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
News
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
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.

Day In a Page

Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

Growing mussels

Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project