Greg Confident Ahead Of Great Citygames Manchester

Great Comeback 1

The Co-op Bank Great CityGames Manchester starts at 5pm and is free to attend on Deansgate and Albert Square. No ticket is necessary. The event will be televised on BBC Two from 6pm.

GREG RUTHERFORD is in the best shape of his career and is looking forward to putting on a show in front of the crowds at the Co-op Bank Great CityGames Manchester on Friday night.

Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth champion Rutherford will continue his preparations for Rio by competing in the long jump event in the specially constructed site on Albert Square under the floodlights for the first time ever.

More than 20,000 people spectate in Manchester each year, with the 200m track on nearby Deansgate transforming the city into a hub of street-level athletics. And Rutherford, a veteran of Great CityGames, is a massive fan of the concept. 

“I’m a huge fan of events like this,” said the 29-year-old, who is fresh from three months of training in Arizona. “I think this is a great example for the sport. I think it’s a great way of approaching things.

“I hope there are more events like this – they are fantastic. Everyone that comes over and watches them says ‘I never realised what it looks like to jump eight metres’, or when Usain Bolt came here and ran 14.3, how fast did he move. 

“That’s what we need more of in the sport, we need people to see it.

“You’ve got to think outside the box and reach an audience you wouldn’t normally, and that’s what this does.”

Rutherford’s 8.01 at the Great CityGames Manchester last year has been surpassed by his 2016 efforts so far, taking the UK indoor long jump record in February, jumping 8.26 in Albuquerque, before opening his outdoor season following a chest infection and adductor strain with a 8.30 in the Long Beach Invitational last month.

He is bookies’ favourite to land a second successive Olympic gold in Rio, and the Milton Keynes jumper is rightly confident of his chances.

He said: “I’ve been training really well again. It was a fantastic three months in Arizona and I’m feeling the benefit hugely from it. I’m feeling really good.

“Arguably I’m in the best shape I’ve been in. The results will always reflect that and I’ve never opened up the season with the distances I’ve opened up with, so that’s a good place to be. So touch wood. 

“We’ve been smart with the selection of competitions. I compete here then Rome and Birmingham, then a few weeks before the Europeans and then London before the Games. It’s all good.

“This is where I’ve always wanted to be. I’ve never shied away from saying that I put a lot of pressure on myself, I expect to win. And when I don’t I understand what comes with that as well, and I’m fine with that.

“I’m going into the Olympic Games expecting to win.”

The Co-op Bank Great CityGames Manchester starts at 5pm and is free to attend on Deansgate and Albert Square. No ticket is necessary. The event will be televised on BBC Two from 6pm.