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Greg Rutherford, Olympic long jump champ on Super Saturday, to retire

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Greg Rutherford, who earned long jump gold as part of Great Britain’s “Super Saturday” at the London Olympics but has struggled with injuries in his early 30s, will retire after this season.

“At times I am in so much pain I can’t even sit on the floor and play with my two kids,” Rutherford said, according to the Guardian, noting he has had five ankle surgeries, plus procedures on his foot, groin and stomach. “I still feel I am fast. I still feel as if I am super strong. But whenever I try to sprint or jump I have to take three days off because I am limping so much. In the end it wears you down.

“I keep asking myself, what’s more important to me – trying to be a mediocre athlete holding on to past glories or moving on?”

Rutherford, a 31-year-old known for his ginger-red hair and clutch performances at major championships, said he will compete at the European Championships in August, then conclude his career at a Diamond League meet in Birmingham, Great Britain.

“I’ve achieved so much but retirement comes early to those of us for whom sport is a livelihood,” was posted on Rutherford’s Instagram. “It only feels like yesterday I was winning my first major medal but now 12 years on, I sit here as the greatest long jumper Great Britain has ever had, one of the most successful in European history and someone ready to hang the spikes up for good.”

On Aug. 4, 2012, Rutherford earned long jump gold less than 10 minutes after countrywoman Jessica Ennis won the heptathlon and less than an hour before Mo Farah prevailed in the 10,000m. Ennis retired after taking silver at the Rio Games. Farah switched to marathons after last season.

Rutherford became the second British man to earn an Olympic long jump title after Lynn Davies in 1964.

He entered the Games as a medal favorite with the joint-farthest jump in the world that season. His winning jump in London, 8.31 meters (27 feet, 3 1/4 inches), was the shortest Olympic gold-medal distance since 1972.

Carl Lewis, a four-time Olympic long jump champion, criticized Rutherford’s generation of long jumpers (Rutherford was coached by Dan Pfaff, who worked with Lewis, and improved significantly in 2012 after changing his takeoff technique to mirror the U.S. legend.)

“[World-record holder] Mike [Powell] and me were jumping 28 feet regularly,” Lewis said in March 2016. “But this generation? Rutherford? I’m sorry, but it’s pathetic to me. He’s won everything. Are you kidding me? He’s doing his best. He’s jumping great. But he shouldn’t be winning with that.”

Rutherford went on to win his next three major championships — the 2014 Commonwealth Games, 2014 Europeans and 2015 Worlds — and then took bronze in Rio (behind U.S. gold medalist Jeff Henderson).

“I’m the Olympic, World, Commonwealth and European champion now,” Rutherford said at the 2015 Worlds. “I’m hoping that’s enough for people to accept I am a half-decent British athlete.”

In 2016, Rutherford said he was risking the hearing in his left ear for the rest of his life by continuing to jump. He developed cochlear hydrops, a rare ear disorder that left him partially deaf, after sustaining whiplash in competition.

“If the room falls silent all I hear is loud white noise, so it’s been a struggle to sleep,” Rutherford said then.

He missed the 2017 Worlds at the London Olympic Stadium with ankle ligament damage and a sports hernia. He has competed in four outdoor meets since Rio, none of them at the top international level.

Rutherford’s personal-best jump of 8.51 meters ranks him joint 23rd all time and sixth among European jumpers.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

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I’m incredibly proud of my career. I’ve achieved so much but retirement comes early to those of us for whom sport is a livelihood. It only feels like yesterday I was winning my first major medal but now 12 years on, I sit here as the greatest long jumper Great Britain has ever had, one of the most successful in European history and someone ready to hang the spikes up for good. • I want to thank everyone who’s had a positive impact on my career (but I’d struggle to name everyone here) Most importantly, the greatest coach I could have ever wished for – @danpfaff. My full potential would never have been reached and that Olympic gold medal would never have been won, if it wasn't for his guidance and input. • I’m going to go for the European Championships one final time. And then I’ll also be jumping in Birmingham and London for the Diamond Leagues. If you fancy coming to watch me compete one last time then please do come on down and give me a wave. It'd be so great to finish with some roaring crowds. • Thank you for all your love and support over the years. It’s been a blast & your kind comments have always given me a push in the right direction. • Grab the @guardian tomorrow to see my exclusive interview with Sean Ingle; we go in to my decision/future plans in further detail there. • @susiejverrill @andrewsteele @aurumsportsgroup @drgerryramogida @andyjburkeuk @melvintann27 @nike … Thank you so much for you help.

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Olympic long jump gold medalist to miss world championships

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Great Britain’s Greg Rutherford, the 2012 Olympic and 2015 World champion in the long jump, will miss the world championships at London’s Olympic Stadium next month due to ankle ligament damage and a sports hernia.

“In the last few days I have had to accept an unfortunate reality,” was posted on Rutherford’s social media Tuesday. “I did everything I could, but a string of injuries at the worst possible time means I will be unable to defend my world title in London.”

Rutherford, 30, is the only man since Carl Lewis to win multiple Olympic long jump medals.

He followed up the London 2012 title as part of Super Saturday with a bronze in Rio behind American Jeff Henderson and South African Luvo Manyonga.

“I am truly gutted,” was posted on Rutherford’s social media. “That [London Olympic] stadium is such a special place for me, I am so devastated that I won’t be competing in front of the best fans in the world, in the stadium that changed my life.”

Rutherford long jumped in two meets this year and none since June 4, according to Tilastopaja.org. He ranks No. 25 in the world in 2017.

Manyonga is favored to win this year’s world title with the five best jumps in the world this year.

Henderson finished fifth at the USATF Outdoor Championships but made the three-man U.S. team for worlds because the third- and fourth-place finishers didn’t meet the qualifying standard.

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Mo Farah honors Ali after Birmingham win; track and field’s longest streak ends

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BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — With the Rio Olympics two months away, another gold medal looks like a long shot for Sally Pearson.

Up-and-coming American Keni Harrison couldn’t be more ready.

In a loaded field for the women’s 100m hurdles at the Diamond League event in Birmingham on Sunday, Pearson trailed home in seventh place in her first competitive race in a year following a serious wrist injury. The Australian described her time of 13.25 seconds — almost a second slower than her personal best — as “disgusting” but was “really happy I could cross the finish line with a smile on my face.”

Harrison won the race in 12.46 seconds despite hitting some hurdles along the way, showing her stunning victory in Eugene last week — in 12.24, the second-fastest time ever — was no one-off. She beat compatriot Brianna Rollins (12.57) in an American 1-2-3-4.

At age 23 and in her first full season as a professional, Harrison is one of the United States’ best track talents heading into Rio, coming within 0.03 seconds of the long-standing world record last week.

“To be doing as well as I am, I’m just really blessed,” Harrison said.

Pearson hadn’t raced since suffering what doctors said was a “bone explosion” in her wrist in a heavy fall in Rome, a year and a day ago. She was also running with strapping around her left hamstring to protect an ailment.

“I’m actually really excited, which I wouldn’t normally be because all I’d be looking at would be the result,” Pearson said.

Full Birmingham results are here.

Home favorite Mo Farah got the biggest cheer of the day after breaking the British record to win the 3000m in 7 minutes, 32.62 seconds. Farah, who now holds his country’s best times from 1500m through 10,000m, bookended his performance with some shadow boxing in honor of his sporting hero Muhammad Ali, the boxing great who died Saturday at age 74.

The longest winning streak in track and field ended. Colombian Caterine Ibargüen was beaten in the triple jump by Kazakh Olga Rypakova. The former had won 34 straight competitions since taking silver at the London Olympics.

Among the other winners at the Alexander Stadium on a sunny day in central England were Olympic champion Kirani James, who ran the 400m in 44.23 — one of six meet records on the day, according to organizers. Kim Collins, the 40-year-old sprinter, clocked 10.11 to win a men’s 100m field lacking the top names, and Kenya’s Asbel Kiprop won the men’s 1500m in a world-leading 3.29.35.

David Rudisha, the Olympic 800m champion from Kenya, won the rarely run 600m in 1.13.10.

Olympic long-jump champion Greg Rutherford‘s year-long unbeaten record ended when he finished fifth, behind Buffalo Bills wide receiver Marquise Goodwin (8.42 meters).

Rutherford tweeted that he was struggling with “bad whiplash” after hurting his neck in winning in Rome midweek.

Canadian Andre De Grasse won the 200m in 20.16 seconds into a headwind against a field that did not include any of the reigning Olympic or World medalists. De Grasse shared the 2015 World 100m bronze with American Trayvon Bromell, who had been entered in Birmingham but pulled out after he appeared to have problems at a meet in Rome on Thursday.

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