Greg's Golden Night
5 August 2012, 08:29
Milton Keynes athlete Greg Rutherford is celebrating becoming the Olympic men's long jump champion on a golden night for Team GB.
The 25 year old athlete - who calls himself the "ginger wizard'' and enjoys baking in his spare time - delighted home crowds with a 8.31-metre jump in the Olympic Stadium.
The jump was short of his personal best but still proved too much for his opponents.
His win came while Jessica Ennis was still basking in the crowd's adoration after her heptathlon win and helped Team GB on its way to a trio of track and field wins on Saturday.
The 25-year-old, who hugged his trainers in the stand after being crowned winner, 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, I cannot lie, and everybody has worked so hard for me.
"What a night for British athletics, three gold medals and I can't thank everyone enough.
"This is what I have dreamed of my whole life.''
Rutherford, who describes himself in his Twitter biography as an "Olympian, ginger and a keen baker'', is the first British man to win the long jump since 1964.
The only other British winner in the event was Lynne Davies.
A gifted all-round sportsman, Rutherford started is athletics career as a promising sprint but realised he true talents lay in the long jump pit.
He had also been selected for badminton trials for his county and had football trial with Premiership team Aston Villa at the age of 13.
Other than Ennis, Rutherford was the only British athlete to lead world rankings in his event this year but, despite his rich form, the long jump was regarded as one of the most open track and field events of the Games.
The joint UK record holder has had to overcome injury en route to his gold medal win, most recently a hamstring tear during last year's World Championships qualifying round in Daegu.
At the time he said he had never felt lower as injury halted the best form of his life.
Speaking after his victory, Rutherford said he hoped Team GB's achievements could inspire young athletes.
He added: "A lot of people have talked about obviously inspiring a nation and that's what this has all been about.
"I think three gold medals from a possible three has got to help somebody.
"There's got to be kids out there somewhere who will think, 'Wow'.
"I was just a normal kid, normal schools, living in a normal house in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, and, all of a sudden, I just won the Olympics.''
GREG RUTHERFORD FACTFILE
1986: Born November 17 in Milton Keynes.
2005: July - Wins AAA Championships for the first time, aged 18.
Wins gold at the European Junior Champions with 8.14 metres.
2006: August - Wins silver at the European Championships in Gothenburg with 8.13m.
2007: August - Having missed almost all of the season through injury, manages just 21st in qualifying at the World Championships in Osaka with a jump of 7.77m.
2008: August - Finishes a disappointing 10th in the Olympic final in Beijing with 7.84m, having jumped 8.16m to be the third best qualifier.
2009: March - Finishes sixth at the European Indoor Championships in Turin.
August - Breaks the then British record with a jump of 8.30m in qualifying at the World Championships in Berlin, breaking Chris Tomlinson's mark by one centimetre. Goes on to finish fifth in the final.
2010: March - Fails to qualify for the final at the World Indoor Championships in Doha.
July - Ruled out of the European Championships with a foot injury.
October - Wins a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi with 8.22m.
2011: September - Suffers a hamstring injury during the qualifying round at the World Championships in Daegu and misses out on a place in the final.
2012: May - Equals the British record, matching Tomlinson's 8.35m, in Chula Vista, California. Follows it up by jumping 8.32m to win the Rome Diamond League meeting later that month.
June - Wins Olympic trials.
August 4 - Claims the Olympic gold medal with a winning leap of 8.31m.