x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Rutherford brushes off criticism after long jump failure in Moscow

Olympic champion exited World Athletics Championships at the first hurdle but believes his selection was 'no brainer'.

Greg Rutherford flopped at the World Athletics Championships in Russia. Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters
Greg Rutherford flopped at the World Athletics Championships in Russia. Kai Pfaffenbach / Reuters

MOSCOW // The Olympic long jump champions Greg Rutherford exited the World Athletics Championships at the first hurdle on Wednesday but believes his selection for Moscow was a "no brainer" despite furious criticism from rival Chris Tomlinson.

A year on from winning Olympic gold, the selection of the 26-year-old Briton for Russia was controversial.

Despite struggling with a hamstring injury, he was picked by UK Athletics performance director Neil Black ahead of the fully fit Tomlinson. It was a decision that backfired as Rutherford finished 14th in qualification, managing a best of 7.87 metres – well shy of the 8.35m personal best he set last year. An already irked Tomlinson was furious at Rutherford's performance and vented his fury on Twitter.

"Words can't describe my anger season ruined on media profile & not current athletic form, thanks for the support from the athletics community", he wrote, before hastily deleting the post.

Tomlinson later added: "Thanks for the support, choosing not to tweet [again] will regret it when my blood pressure settles!! Good luck to all the team il see u soon."

By that point, though, Rutherford had already been asked about Tomlinson's comment.

"Ultimately, I'm still British No 1 as it stands and still jumped further multiple times than him this year," he said. "I've beaten him every time apart from when I got hurt.

"I think in any event, if you're looking at somebody better who's failed the distance that year but won more head-to-heads and still has a major title behind them, it's a no brainer.

"Surely, you'd pick anyone in any event in the same scenario?

"Again, Chris is obviously going to be upset but there's nothing I can do about that. We both put ourselves in a not-great position by not jumping an 'A' qualifier so that's what it comes down to. I'm feeling pretty good but just not jumping far enough at the moment.

"I'm not too concerned about tweets and whatever else."

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