Greg Rutherford of Great Britain celebrates a jump 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
Jessica Ennis became the first British athlete to win an Olympic title here in London taking that honour from team-mate Greg Rutherford by just a few minutes. Ennis won the Heptathlon gold. Rutherford took the men’s Long Jump Olympic crown.
The announcement of Rutherford’s winning mark in round four was cheered on by a vociferous capacity crowd of 80,000 spectators – who for the vast majority are supporting British athletes – as Ennis was simultaneously being introduced for the start of her final event. It meant a further increase of decibels in the Olympic stadium, arguably one of the loudest ever at a major championship of this calibre.
The world season leader at 8.35 from early May, Rutherford had been unable to match his form later in the season leaving the event as wide open as possible. But the 25-year-old co-holder of the British record signaled his intention as early as the second round with a 8.21 clearance which took him into the gold medal position, one he would not relinquish.
Rutherford’s winning effort of 8.31 came in round four, a round in which six of the eight finalists set their best of the evening. First up was European champion Sebastian Bayer who moved all the way from sixth to second with his fourth round 8.10.
Up next, Chris Tomlinson made his own impression from fifth to third with 8.07. At that point, three men - Tomlinson, Will Claye and Michel Torneus – had best marks of 8.07 but Sweden’s Torneus, the next man to jump, cleared 8.11 to go into second leaving Bayer in third, Tomlinson back to fourth and Claye down in fifth.
It was Claye’s turn next and he too responded well with 8.12, moving into silver ahead of Torneus by just one centimetre and Bayer off the podium another centimetre adrift. It was a decisive improvement for the US World Indoor Triple Jump champion.
Australia’s Mitchell Watt who only just made the cut with a low-key 7.97 and a couple of fouls made his first impression in round five moving from seventh to second with a 8.13 clearance. A clear expression of relief could be seen on the face of the World Championships silver medallist from Daegu who ultimately was to add another silver medal to his list of honours despite being off his best form.
Going into the final round the standing read: Rutherford 8.31, Watt 8.13, Claye 8.12, Torneus 8.11, Bayer 8.10, Tomlinson 8.07, Da Silva 8.01 and Mokoena 7.93.
The only man to improve in round six was Watt himself but his 8.16 could not challenge the lead and he remained in silver.
Rutherford’s was the shortest winning mark to win the Long Jump Olympic title since the 1972 Olympic Games in Moscow and the first Long Jump gold for Great Britain since Lynn Davies’ title in Tokyo 1964.
Watt matched the feat of compatriot Jai Taurima, in winning Australia’s first silver in the event since Sydney 2000. Claye made sure the US stepped back on the podium of an Olympic Long Jump final a feat they failed at in Beijing 2008!
Curiously, just like at the Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, bronze was decided by just one centimetre and this time around it was Torneus who was left off the podium in fourth.
Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF
1999 Galfione on track