sport

Rutherford eyes titles

Greg Rutherford smashed the British long jump record with a leap of 8.51 metres - and then declared he could go even further.

The Olympic champion returned to form in emphatic fashion following a miserable 2013 season, adding 16 centimetres to the previous mark of 8.35m he held jointly with Chris Tomlinson.

His leap in Chula Vista, San Diego came in his first outdoor competition of the year, having competed just once indoors, suggesting an exciting summer awaits. It is comfortably the furthest leap in the world this year.

The 27-year-old is out to make up for an injury-plagued campaign last year by winning the Commonwealth and European titles this summer.

Rutherford said he was "absolutely buzzing" after the competition, but now wants to make sure he builds on such a flying start to the season.

"That's the big thing for me - it's all well and good doing it this early in the season, but it's all about jumping further and winning some more titles," he added.

The Milton Keynes athlete failed to make the final of the World Championships in Moscow last summer after rupturing his hamstring in at the Diamond League meeting in Paris and finished the season with a best leap of just 8.22m. His form prompted critics to claim his Super Saturday success at London 2012 was lucky.

"It's all about proving it on the track and proving to people that have different views wrong," Rutherford said. "We'll see how the summer goes and hopefully there'll be some bigger distances."

Rutherford is due to compete at the BT Great CityGames in Manchester on May 17 and the Sainsbury's Glasgow Grand Prix at Hampden Park on July 11-12. The Commonwealth Games will take place in Glasgow later that month, with the European Championships to follow in Zurich in August.

"Whenever anybody jumps well, or is doing well, other athletes obviously want to beat you, which is something that I enjoy," Rutherford said. "If my body had been in one piece last year, we could have had a good year.

"I opened well in 2012 and backed it up with a few good performances and a major championships. That will be the aim again this year and replicate it.

"For me it's all about doing it in a big scenario and competition, so for me Glasgow, warming up for the Commonwealth Games, is going to be a good time to do it and hopefully I can get multiple distances out there and re-establish myself as one of the best jumpers in the world."

Rutherford set his 8.35m mark almost two years ago, also in Chula Vista, as he built up to the London Games.

That had equalled Tomlinson's best and Tomlinson paid tribute to his team-mate.

"Wow well done to @GregJRutherford, 8.51! Class jumping," the Middlesbrough athlete said on Twitter.

Tomlinson was unhappy last year that Rutherford was chosen ahead of him for the World Championships, despite the Olympic champion's fitness concerns.