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UK Athletics

greg rutherford on strictly come dancing and 2017

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Greg Rutherford

Greg Rutherford (coach: Dan Pfaff) has enjoyed another year of success in the long jump, retaining his European title in July prior to a second consecutive Olympic podium place with bronze in August.

In the time since Rio the 29-year-old has signed up to test his abilities in an all-together different environment: competing weekly on the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing. We caught up with the global medallist to gain an insight into his experience so far on the show, as well as his plans for the 2017 athletics season.

1. What were your first thoughts when you got the call inviting you to appear on Strictly Come Dancing 2017?

I have zero dance skills so I was terrified but also intrigued by the challenge! Susie & I have watched the last few seasons of SCD and love it. It was a big decision to make, but it seemed like if there was ever a time to do it, it was natural to do so in my normal post-Olympic break.

2. How do you feel about the outfits?

I don’t mind them at all! I’m used to jumping in very tight vests and small shorts so I feel surprisingly at home in tight outfits…

3. What has been your biggest challenge so far during Strictly?

Every week the dances get harder and more challenging, but I think moving from the Ballroom dances to the Salsa was very difficult. You need lots of hip action for the Latin dances - not something that comes naturally to me.

4. How do you balance Strictly and time with your family? Do you get to see much of them whilst you train for the show?

At this time of year I normally completely switch off for at least 8 weeks, so am just at home with my family. This year however, it’s been a bit more difficult with all the training! Strictly is the closest thing I’ve had to a full-time job! I’m lucky that Natalie comes to Milton Keynes for our training, so I sleep at home most evenings, or Susie and Milo come and stay with me in London when I need to be there.

5. Have you learnt anything from Strictly that you can use to improve your athletics performances?

I believe that learning a new skill is good practice, no matter what you’re end goal. Perhaps my enhanced co-ordination from Strictly might help my run-up in the future.

6. What are the major differences between training for an athletic competition and Strictly?

When I train for the long jump, I only have to rely on myself. I decide when to get up and when I go and train - I am the sole master of my own destiny. Whereas, with Strictly, I have to really rely on Natalie, and she also has to rely on me! You would think I’m used to competing in front of millions of people, but I honestly think I was more nervous for the first show than I was for the Olympics!

7. Is dancing as competitive as athletics? If so in what sense?

Of course being a professional athlete I am always going to be slightly competitive. But with Strictly, it’s more about learning something new and enjoying the experience! I think the main reason we would be competitive with each other is because we all are having the time of our lives and don’t want to be the one that’s eliminated meaning it all comes to an end! I’m just going to do my best and I’m lucky I have a very good teacher in Natalie.

8. What advice would you give to inspire those who watch you on a Saturday night to become a world class athlete?

Try as many disciplines and sport as you can, find the one you enjoy the most and just go for it. Once you’ve made your decision, stick to it and commit. Athletics is a great sport as it is so easy to get into, no expensive equipment or facilities required. Just get down to your local track and get involved, don’t be scared.

9. Tell us about your new book?

My autobiography, Unexpected, is coming out in early November. I’m so excited for it to be released; I felt it was a good time to share my story, and I really haven’t held back! You’ll read all about my childhood, my somewhat rebellious teen years and the highs and lows of my athletics career. I also touch on issues facing our sport, which i feel strongly about. Many people thought I was lucky when I won the 2012 Olympics, but I think after reading this you will see how determined I am and how I definitely haven’t finished yet!

10. What message do you have for your fans hoping to see you during the 2017 athletics season? 

I’ll be back! I will be focusing mainly on my outdoor competitions, with the main event of the year taking place in London in August - the 2017 World Championships. I’m so excited to compete in the Queen Elizabeth stadium; that track holds lots of happy memories for me. I’m just hoping I can repeat my performance from 4 years ago!