'Ginger guy' wants to inspire
Olympic champion Greg Rutherford hopes his long jump triumph can inspire a new generation to emulate "that pretty good ginger guy."
Rutherford claimed one of three gold medals on an unprecedented evening for British athletics on Saturday, completing what proved to be his winning jump of 8.31m as Jessica Ennis began the last event of the heptathlon and celebrating trackside as Mo Farah pounded his way to victory in the 10,000m.
While Ennis and Farah had been tipped to win gold after previous victories at major championships, Rutherford arrived in London without much weight of expectation despite leading the world rankings in 2012.
And the 25-year-old wants a new generation of young athletes to follow in his footsteps ahead of London staging the World Championships in 2017.
"I don't think it's completely hit me what has happened," Rutherford admitted. "If we have gone out there and inspired people that would be absolutely fantastic, that's part of why we do it. I am hoping there are a couple of kids out there that are thinking I will do long jump now, that ginger guy was pretty good!
"The likes of Jess and Mo have been there for a couple of years doing incredible things, they have been inspiring for a long time and I am hoping I can jump on that now and be inspiring too.
"I can say yes I'm an Olympic champion now, which is something I've wanted my entire life, but the emotion that comes with that, I am not quite sure how to take it on board. It's a very very strange feeling. I am very happy but don't really know how to get that out at the moment."
Rutherford's winning jump was the shortest to win Olympic gold since 1972, although it was also just three centimetres less than Irving Saladino's winning distance in Beijing four years ago.
But none of that was about to bother Rutherford, whose previous appearance at the Olympics ended with kidney and lung infections and being ferried to a Beijing hospital in the back of an ambulance.
"I have always said that I could win majors and jump far; I didn't jump massive last night but it was enough to win and that's what it's all about," Rutherford added. "I would have been happy with seven metres if it meant I was Olympic champion to be honest."