Greg Rutherford of Great Britain competes in the Men's Long Jump Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Tantalising head-to-heads between Olympic jump champions Greg Rutherford and Christian Taylor and Triple jumpers Olga Rypakova and Yamile Aldama are on at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix, the 12th stop on the Samsung Diamond League circuit, on Sunday 26 August.
Rutherford claimed the most prestigious prize in athletics when he jumped 8.31m in front of an 80,000 capacity crowd at Olympic Park on 'Super Saturday’, sandwiched between gold medals for fellow Brits Jess Ennis and Mo Farah. After savouring victory in the biggest event of his life, the 25-year-old is looking forward to getting back to the track and entertaining a fanatical West Midlands crowd in Britain’s final Samsung Diamond League meet of the season.
"The Olympics were an amazing experience from start to finish, the crowd were unbelievable and I’m really looking forward to competing in front of a home crowd once again at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix.
"There’s a real buzz around the sport at the moment, and I’m sure that the British public will be out in full force to welcome the returning Olympians to Birmingham."
In a mouth-watering twist that will see two Olympic champions go head-to-head, Rutherford will take on America’s newly-crowned Olympic Triple Jump champion Christian Taylor, who will compete in the Long Jump for the first time in Europe since 2008. The two gold medallists will be joined by Australia’s Olympic long jump silver medallist, Mitchell Watt, as well as joint British record holder Chris Tomlinson.
Despite specialising in the Triple Jump, the talented 22-year-old Taylor holds a respectable 8.19m long jump personal best and narrowly missed out on a position in the US Long Jump squad at London 2012, finishing fourth at their Olympic Trials in June. Rutherford is looking forward to the challenge of facing one of the rising stars of athletics.
"I’m really excited about the prospect of going up against Christian [Taylor]. He showed his world-class credentials winning gold in the Triple Jump at the Games, and it will be great to go head-to-head with him at the Alexander Stadium at the end of August."
The joint British record holder will be looking to close the gap at the top of the Samsung Diamond League standings, with Australian Watt leading the way after a strong showing at the Aviva London Grand Prix last month in Crystal Palace, where he took victory over Tomlinson by 2cm with a jump of 8.28m. Despite Watt leading their career head-to-head 4-2, Rutherford will be full of confidence heading to the Birmingham Alexander Stadium after his Olympic triumph.
"I’ve got a taste for victory now, especially after winning gold in London. I hope I can continue the trend and push for a strong finish in the Samsung Diamond League.
"It will be the last major meet in the country this year and I’m determined to give the crowd another big reason to cheer in what has been the best year of my career."
Aldama, Rypakova and Salduha in the women's Triple Jump
Mewnwhile British triple jumper Aldama, who celebrates her 40th birthday today, will take on Kazakhstan’s Olympic Triple Jump champion Rypakova, as well as Olympic bronze medallist and current World champion Olha Saladuha of Ukraine.
Aldama, who continues to show impressive durability in remaining at the top of her sport 15 years after her first major championships, jumped 14.48m in her Olympic final on Sunday 5 August. With a recent shoulder injury affecting her pre-Games build-up however, she was well below her 2012 best of 14.82m and finished in fifth place.
Although the current World Indoor champion was disappointed with the end result, Aldama is already looking forward to facing Rypakova and Saladuha again.
"The Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix will give me a chance to go up against another world-class field and I’m determined to put on a good performance in front of another amazing crowd at the Alexander Stadium. Taking on the Olympic Champion and the World Champion again is the perfect chance to show what I can really do."
"I've just been so unlucky with this injury. Every time I'm in real good shape something happens. That’s the bit that really hurts me most. But I'm fine, I'm back in training, you're not going to get rid of me yet."
London 2012 was particularly frustrating for Aldama after such a promising start to the year which saw her win her first major championship title in Istanbul her winning jump of 14.82m from the World Indoor Championships would have seen her come away with a silver medal in London.
"I could have jumped the distance [at the Olympics]. It was me, my responsibility, I know I can jump those distances. I know I could win that medal but it wasn't to be.
"I’m going to use that frustration about the Olympic final to push me further and train even harder. I’m looking forward to getting back into competition in Birmingham in a couple of weeks."
Olympic Champion Rypakova, who was also a silver medallist behind Saladuha at the World Championships in Daegu last year, is excited about competing in Birmingham for the first time.
"I really enjoyed competing in London at the Olympics and now that I’ve won Olympic gold, I can’t wait to jump in Britain again at the Aviva Birmingham Grand Prix. It will be another great competition and I will have to make sure I’m at my best again. I’m sure the girls will be targeting me now but I’m looking forward to it."
Further additions to the world-class line-up in Birmingham include Jamaica’s Kimberly Williams, who matched Aldama’s 14.48m in the Olympic final, bronze medallist at the 2010 World Indoor Championships in Doha.
Organisers for the IAAF
- Greg Rutherford of Great Britain competes in the Men's Long Jump Final on Day 8 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 4, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Christian Taylor of the United States in action before winning the gold medal in the Men's Triple Jump Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 9, 2012 (Getty Images) © Copyright
- Olga Rypakova on her way to Olympic triple jump gold (Getty Images) © Copyright