Triple major championship gold medallist and lifelong Manchester United fan, Greg Rutherford, will face the challenge of emerging Brit Dan Bramble when he attempts to complete a hat-trick of long jump victories in the Great CityGames Manchester on Saturday 9 May.
Rutherford made a winning debut in the hugely popular city centre event in 2013 and was victorious again in May last year, at the start of a summer season in which he added Commonwealth and European titles to the Olympic long jump crown he secured at London 2012.
The 28-year-old Milton Keynes athlete will return next month to what has become his own personal Theatre of Dreams – the pop up field event arena erected in front of Manchester Town Hall – looking for a hat-trick of Great CityGames Manchester wins.
The Red Devils fanatic will have to contend with the burgeoning Bramble, who took a quantum leap into world class territory with a brilliant 8.21m jump at an early season US meet in Clermont, Florida, on Saturday.
Bramble, the 2015 British indoor champion, propelled himself from 23rd to fifth in the UK all-time list with a massive 30cm improvement on his lifetime best. The 24-year-old Shaftesbury Barnet, coached by jumps guru Frank Attoh, stands second on the 2015 world ranking list and underlined his new global credentials by taking the scalp of 2013 World Championship silver medallist Ignisious Gaisah of the Netherlands, who will also be in the field in an intriguing competition in the Great CityGames Manchester, and Olympic triple champion Christian Taylor of the US.
The Manchester contest will mark the start of a big summer for Rutherford, whose main goal for 2015 is to claim the IAAF World Championship title in Beijing in August and complete a full set of major championships gold medals.
After an injury-effected 2013 season, Rutherford re-established himself as the world number one long jumper last year. He topped the global rankings with a British record 8.51m leap as well as topping the medal rostra at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and European Championships in Zurich.
Rutherford signed off for the summer with a victory in the Great North CityGames on Tyneside and has since had just one competition, winning at the Birmingham Indoor Grand Prix in February with a jump of 8.17m, just 1cm shy of Chris Tomlinson’s British indoor record.
Tomlinson, the 2008 world indoor silver medallist, will be among Rutherford’s rivals in Manchester on 9 May – together with Bramble, Gaisah and Americans Cal Lane and Mike Hartfield.
Rutherford will be joined at the event by fellow British Olympic champion Jessica Ennis-Hill. The 2012 heptathlon gold medallist, on the comeback trail after becoming a mother last year, competes in the 100m hurdles.
Recently-crowned European indoor pentathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson will take part in the 200m hurdles.
The Great CityGames Manchester will be held on Saturday 9 May in Manchester city centre and will be shown live on BBC One and BBC One HD from 13:00 – 15:00. The event is part of a weekend-long celebration of sport in the city which includes Europe’s biggest 10K event, the Morrisons Great Manchester Run on Sunday