21st July 2011

Tomlinson And Rutherford Set For Long Jump Duel


21 July 2011

Newly-crowned British record holder Chris Tomlinson will renew his long jump rivalry with Commonwealth Games silver medallist Greg Rutherford at the star-studded Aviva UK Trials and Championships next weekend.

The pair will meet at the Birmingham Alexander Stadium on 29-31 July as the West Midlands hosts the third Aviva Series event of the year, this time featuring the best British athletes battling it out to secure a place on the Aviva Great Britain and Northern Ireland team bound for the IAAF World Championships in Daegu.

Both long jumpers are at the top of their game at the moment, with Tomlinson leaping to fourth in the IAAF world rankings with an 8.35m British record-breaking jump in Paris earlier this month, claiming the record Rutherford has owned for the past two years.

The meet in France was the second time the pair have met this year, with Rutherford winning a contest earlier in the season in Oslo, taking the overall score to 13-5 in his favour in head-to-head battles.

But with both jumpers having already leapt the qualifying distance for South Korea and in contention for a medal in Daegu, Tomlinson believes the contest will allow both athletes to go out pressure-free with the sole aim of cementing their seat on the plane and impressing the West Midlands crowd.

Tomlinson, who holds the national title, said: “It’s always great to compete in Birmingham in front of a home crowd. There’s bound to be much more excitement around the sport just one year away from the Olympics, it will be really great to compete in front of people that you know are backing you all the way.

“This year so far has been good for me, I was happy to break the British record at the recent Diamond League meeting in Paris.  I knew I could jump that far and feel that I can go further this year. 

“I am currently ranked fourth in the world and look forward to booking my ticket to Daegu at the Trials.  The Worlds is so important, despite the Olympics being only a year away, this is still the meet that all athletes are working towards. After Daegu, London will be the next big challenge, but at the moment you have to take it from one major to the next.”

Tomlinson’s record-breaking jump in Paris bettered the previous best of 8.30m set by Rutherford at the 2009 IAAF World Championships in Berlin.

In fact, if Rutherford were to have jumped that distance in the final of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, he would have walked away with gold.

Rutherford, who claimed silver at the 2006 European Championships, jumped an impressive 8.27m at the same meet and with the pair having owned the national title between them since 2004, Britain can boast it holds one of the best domestic duos on the planet.

But the 24-year-old refuses to be drawn on the rivalry with Tomlinson and instead wants to concentrate on reclaiming the British record from his compatriot.

Rutherford said: “I love competing at the Trials event in Birmingham – there’s always a brilliant atmosphere as there are so many athletes working towards the ultimate aim of getting to the World Championships.

“I’m in a position that I’ve set a standard qualifying distance so it’ll be another great opportunity for me to go out on home soil and put in a performance in front of a British crowd. This year has already been fairly good for me so far so I just need to be sure to keep my head down and keep pushing hard for some good results.”

“There’s always talk about rivalry between me and Chris but we’re good, we’re used to competing against one another and I try not to worry too much about what others are saying and instead concentrate on my own competition.”

Away from the pit, Tom Parsons battles it out to add outdoor honours to the indoor title he won in Sheffield in February, while Holly Bleasdale, Steve Lewis and Max Eaves will all participate in competitive pole vault battles.

Bleasdale, 19, is on the end of a whirlwind month which has seen her break the British record with a jump of 4.70m in Germany and take her first international title at the European U23 Championships in Ostrava.

The Aviva UK Trials and Championships will be held at Birmingham Alexander Stadium from 29-31 July and shown live on BBC2 / BBC HD. For tickets or more information go to uka.org.uk/aviva-series or phone 08000 556 056