Birmingham: Rutherford, Echevarría and Manyonga To Compete
Competing at the Alexander Stadium for the last ever time following countless outings in the city for both the British Championships and IAAF Diamond League meetings over the years, Rutherford’s outing next month will be his final competition in the second city and his last British Athletics meet.
The 31-year-old British record holder has struggled with injury since taking Olympic bronze in 2016 but has committed to one more Stadium competition in Birmingham in order to bid farewell to many of his fans, though the competition in Birmingham will be nothing short of stiff.
Among those in the field are the two best long jumpers in the world at current: world champion Luvo Manyonga of South Africa and current world leader Juan Miguel Echevarria of Cuba.
Echevarría, 19, is widely regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in global athletics having recorded the longest jump in 23 years last month with 8.83m,
The Cuban missed the recent Müller Anniversary Games in London due to injury but will return to Birmingham and compete in the UK for the first time since he won gold at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in March earlier this year.
Looking ahead to an emotional farewell in Birmingham, Greg Rutherford said: “I am really excited. As the crowd sees you appear, there is a sort of rippling effect of cheers and every year that I have competed there has been relatively emotional for me. Ever since London 2012, the crowd have been amazing towards me. So, to do it, for what will be the last time in such a great Stadium with so many memories for me, is going to be very emotional and I am probably going to cry.
“We are very lucky in Great Britain that the crowd who come along generally are very knowledgeable and in Birmingham it’s generally the big athletics fans that are there, so they really do get behind you and know what is good and what’s bad. They know the athletes and will know that I am not at my full strength but they will get massively behind me with every jump so it will be really special.”
On his excitement of competing against Echevarría, Rutherford added: “I am really excited to have him there in Birmingham too, and that I will have the chance to compete against him before I retire. He, in my opinion, will go on to become the world record holder and will become the greatest ever so it will be wonderful to compete against him in Birmingham.
“It’s a bit of a change of the guard, and that’s how I am looking at it. I have had my time in the sun and been the best in the world for all of those years, but now it’s like I am passing the torch on. Hopefully he will run with it and elevate the event to where it should be.”
Rutherford also hopes that having world class names in the event will help to grow the sport, concluding: “The long jump is such an incredible event and I hope that from Echevarría’s successes, we see a whole new flood of new young athletes getting involved with long jumping.
“And once we keep pushing these kinds of athletes out and letting people see how incredibly talented they are, what we find is that those events will come to the top and people will really enjoy it."
Tickets are available at britishathletics.org.uk.