Greg Rutherford in the long jump at the London 2012 Olympic Games (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Preview: men's long jump – Rio 2016 Olympic Games

Back on Super Saturday four years ago, the famous night when British athletes won three gold medals within an hour at the London 2012 Olympic Games, Greg Rutherford was probably the least expected of the trio to triumph but he has since gone on to prove himself to be the consummate championship performer

He has since won at the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015, the past two European Championships and at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Whatever the odds for his rivals, Rutherford in recent years has seemed to find a way to get the victory when it counts.

Consequently, even though there are a number of men ahead of him on the 2016 world list, most pundits rate the Briton as the marginal favourite with his competitive record speaking for itself.

Leading the 2016 world list, though, is the almost ludicrously talented Jarrion Lawson. At the NCAA (US collegiate) Championships in early June, he became the first man to win the 100m, 200m and long jump since the legendary Jesse Owens.

He then went on to jump 8.58m at the US Olympic Trials, although it was only actually good enough for second place as Jeff Henderson leapt a wind-assisted 8.59m to win by one centimetre.

The pair will be joined in Rio by Mike Hartfield, who only finished fifth at the Olympic Trails but who has jumped 8.34m and is still a good enough competitor on his day to challenge for a medal. He will also want to put behind him the memory of three fouls and failing to register a valid mark in Beijing last August.

Michel Torneus had a similar experience in Beijing, with three fouls in qualifying, but the Swede is normally quite a consistent competitor on the big occasion.

He was fourth in London four years ago, finished second to Rutherford at the European Championships last month and a month ago jumped a national record of 8.44m, albeit at altitude in Spain.

Chinese trio in contention

China took the bronze medal in Beijing thanks to teenager Wang Jianan, with teammate Gao Xinglong fourth, and it’s likely that this pair will be in contention for a place on the podium again as they have posted a series of solid results around the international circuit with the latter winning at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Shanghai and London.

The third member of the talented Chinese contingent is Huang Changzhou, who steps in to fill the injury-induced void left by the flamboyant national record-holder Li Jinzhe.

In what is a cosmopolitan event, Africa should be represented by the improving Ruswahl Samaai.

The South African won the African title with a windy 8.40m in June but earlier this season equalled his legal personal best of 8.38m when winning at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat and will have gained valuable experience when finishing fifth at the World Indoor Championships in March.

The trip around the world in this event would not be complete without a nod towards the prospects of world indoor and outdoor silver medallist Fabrice Lapierre.

The Australian, who also won the 2010 world indoor title, has been rejuvenated since changing coaches and starting work under Dan Pfaff in the USA two years ago.

This year he has been in the top three of all five IAAF Diamond League meetings he has contested.

"I do think I can do it and I'm going in there with that mentality of 'yeah, I'm going out there to win'," he told local reporters last week. "I believe I am going to win.

"It's a good feeling to know that Australia is looking to me for a medal, I love that and I thrive off it.”

 Phil Minshull for the IAAF