sport

Rutherford eyes Arizona switch

Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford is hoping to head for the heat of the Arizona sun to plot his assault on world championship gold.

The 26-year-old, whose triumph at London 2012 came on a famous night for British athletics as Jessica Ennis and Mo Farah also struck gold, is ready to follow coach Dan Pfaff to Arizona to continue their hugely productive relationship.

Rutherford has spent the months since the Olympics trying to make arrangements to link up with Pfaff once again seemingly destined to return to the United States, and although that stage is yet to be reached, a blueprint has been drawn up.

Asked if a decision had been taken yet, he said: "Not 100 per cent. It's looking as if now we are going to be based in Phoenix in Arizona.

"That's still not 100 per cent confirmed, but it's a little bit more confirmed than things have been in previous conversations we have had!

"I am very hopeful that that will be the case because ultimately, I need to stay working with Dan. Dan got me to where I am now.

"It's Dan that has made me a bit more consistent and started to help me understand the event a lot more as well, and going forward over the next couple of years, that could be the huge platform me to jump very, very far.

"Ultimately without Dan, I am not as confident about doing that going forward, so I need to make it work and I am pretty confident that we will make it work.

"I see myself as being in a much better position if I am based in the heat as long as I possibly can."

Rutherford is currently recovering from two bouts of surgery, one to repair two hernias and another to address damage to his take-off foot which has been troubling him for more than two years.

The lay-off has simply served to confirm his passion for the sport which has made him a household name in Britain, and he admits he cannot wait to return to training.

He said: "Hopefully it won't be long now and I'll be back to normality and I can go out and get in the sand again. I'm missing it like there's no tomorrow, honestly.

"When you do it, I think you take it for granted a lot of the time because you just think, 'It's what I do every day, it's hard work'.

"But then when you can't do it and you are told you actually physically can't do it...

"It's something I am missing so much and I just want to get back in the sand and just get jumping again."

Rutherford's comments came on Tyneside as he joined former Olympic 400m hurdles champions Sally Gunnell and Gateshead Harrier Ross Murray at the launch of the 2013 European Athletics Team Championships at Gateshead International Stadium on June 22-23.

The joint British record-holder will hope to compete in the event as part of his preparations for the World Championships in Moscow in August and the bid to prove his moment of glory was not a one-off.

He said: "Every competition I do, I do it because I want to win and going forward, that won't change and hopefully the desire won't.

"I can already feel it's stronger than it's ever been for me to go out there now and prove that it's not just one medal, it's not just a one-trick pony sort of thing.

"I have a huge opportunity now to put everything into perfecting something that I have got and turning the speed and the power that I've got into something that really is a respectable distance, because 8.35m ultimately isn't impressive.

"As much as it got me world number one and everything else this year, it's still not an impressive distance if you are looking through the jumping rankings.

"I want to really, really push it out there, and things like the British record would just be put to bed. I just want that done, dusted and out of the way."