Glasgow 2014: Greg Rutherford leaps to Commonwealth gold

By Tom FordyceChief sports writer in Glasgow
Rutherford leaps to gold in Glasgow

Greg Rutherford added Commonwealth long jump gold to his Olympic title on a strong day for England at Glasgow 2014.

Rutherford, who won silver in Delhi four years ago, had an epidural injection in the build-up to make it to qualifying after pulling out of the Diamond League event here with injury.

But after his first round 8.12 metres was matched by South Africa's Zarck Visser, his championship pedigree told as he produced a third round 8.20m to snatch a lead that none of his rivals could threaten.

Rutherford's gold, allied to those of gymnasts Max Whitlock and Claudia Fragapane, plus synchro pair Alicia Blagg and Rebecca Gallantree, and Jack Laugher in diving, took England's tally to 38, surpassing their haul of 37 in Delhi in 2010 and taking them above Australia, on 35, with four days of action left.

Rutherford's major medals
2006 European ChampionshipsSilver
2010 Commonwealth GamesSilver
2012 Olympic GamesGold
2014 Commonwealth GamesGold

Rutherford, who has endured a difficult time since London 2012 - struggling with hamstring injuries, losing his kit sponsor and failing to qualify for the World Championship final a year ago - used the support of a home crowd as well as he had two years ago on a cool night far from ideal for jumping.

"It's never an easy road, and after what happened last year with injury I wasn't sure I was going to be able to carry on jumping. But now I've managed to win another title and that's what it's all about for me," he told BBC Sport afterwards.

"I think a lot of people had written me off thinking I was a one-hit wonder. But I wanted to prove I could do it again.

"I'm super happy. I'll go to the European Championships in a couple of weeks [starting on 12 August], try to do it again and keep jumping far."

Grenada's Kirani James wins men's 400m gold

Rutherford's fellow Olympic champion Kirani James took Grenada's first ever gold medal at a Commonwealth Games as he smashed Welshman Iwan Thomas's 16-year-old Games record to take the 400m in 44.24 seconds.

James, along with David Rudisha the stand-out international star of these Games, was the dominant favourite, but South Africa's Wayde van Niekerk went out hard over the first 200m in a brave attempt to unsettle him.

But the 21-year-old James had run an even race and came away down the home straight with his trademark long strides as Van Niekerk hung on for silver in 44.68 sec with Trinidad and Tobago's Lalonde Gordon taking bronze in 44.78, clear of England's Martyn Rooney in fourth.

Michael Johnson, 400m world record holder, on Martyn Rooney
"You have to make the decision at some point whether you compete against the other athletes or stick with your own plan. When he saw the others start to go away from him. Martyn needed to make the adjustment. He thought they would come back to him, but it turned out to be a costly mistake, because this was a great opportunity for him to get a medal."

Rutherford appears to relish these big finals, and after battling injury for so much of his career also appreciates every success that comes his way.

Having broken the British record in April only to have its validity questioned by long-time British rival Chris Tomlinson, his celebrations when Visser's sixth and final round attempt failed to break 8m were prolonged and heartfelt.

"People try to write off the Commonwealth Games and say it isn't important," he added. "But try telling that to any athlete who has won a medal here.

"These are hugely important for all types of athletes at all levels and long may it continue."

He added: "I think they should have all championships in Britain! I love the big stadiums and the big crowds - I thrive on it."

Rushwahl Samaai took bronze with 8.08m while Tomlinson was back in fifth with his second-round 7.99m.

England's Jess Taylor won a superb bronze in the heptathlon, with Canada's Brianne Theisen-Eaton taking gold.

In the absence of new mum Jessica Ennis-Hill and her heir apparent Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the 26-year-old produced her best on the big stage, finishing with 5826 points to hold on to a podium place.

Jessica Taylor, right, and Jessica Tappin
Jess Taylor (right) is congratulated by team-mate Jessica Tappin for her heptathlon bronze

Kenyan Rudisha, whose Olympic 800m gold and world record provided one of the highlights of London 2102, coasted effortlessly into Thursday's final in 1:46.61, with Scotland's Guy Learmonth and England's Michael Rimmer also making it.

England's Bianca Williams was impressive as she eased into the women's 200m semi-finals in the quickest time, faster than newly-crowned 100m champion Blessing Okagbare. England's Anyika Onoura and Jodie Williams are also through.

Australia's world silver medallist Kim Mickle threw a Games record of 65.96m to win the women's javelin. England's Goldie Sayers finished seventh.

Kenya celebrated a clean sweep in the women's 3,000m steeplechase, with Purity Kirui holding off a late burst from team-mate Milcah Cheywa to take gold in 9:30.96. Despite a season of health problems, Scotland's Eilish McColgan finished an excellent sixth.

Two-time Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand won her third Commonwealth title with a meaty throw of 19.88m. England trio Rachel Wallander, Sophie McKinna and Eden Francis were fourth, fifth and sixth, with Scotland's Kirsty Yates in eighth.

England's Chris Baker had to settle for fourth in the high jump, missing out on bronze on countback after clearing 2.25m.

Defending champion Dai Greene failed to make the final of the 400m hurdles but England's Rick Yates went through after finishing third in his heat.

Scotland's Lynsey Sharp and Emily Dudgeon advanced to the women's 800m semi-finals, along with England's Jenny Meadows, Jessica Judd and Marilyn Okoro, and Katie Kirk of Northern Ireland.

England's Danny Talbot was joint second-fastest qualifier in the men's 200m while team-mates Chris Clarke and James Ellington finished second in their heats, with Northern Ireland's Leon Reid going through as a fastest loser.

Shara Proctor made the women's long jump final with a leap of 6.51m while Wales' Brett Morse progressed to the discus final, and England's Isobel Pooley and Jayne Nisbet of Scotland qualified from the women's high jump heats.

Greg Rutherford
Greg Rutherford celebrates his long jump success with the Hampden Park crowd
Kirani James and Martyn Rooney
Grenada's Kirani James took 400m gold, with England's Martyn Rooney (right) in fourth
Richard Yates and Dai Greene
England's Richard Yates is through to the 400m hurdles final, but Wales' Dai Greene, left, crashed out
Jenny Meadows
England's Jenny Meadows and Scotland's Lynsey Sharp made it into the 800m semi-finals