GREG RUTHERFORD EXCLUSIVE: I want gold in Tokyo... if not, Winter Olympics is an option
Greg Rutherford talks exclusively to Eurosport about his missed chance at the Rio Games, Winter Olympics as an option, and Britain's next sprint great...
After I won my bronze medal in Rio I said live on TV that I was gutted and if I am honest, I still see the Olympic Games as a big missed opportunity.
I never have an issue with being beaten if I know I've performed the best I can perform when people have beaten me. The problem was I never felt like I did myself justice in that Olympic final. It is still really difficult for me to accept that I finished third in that competition, but I take my hat off to the two guys that finished ahead of me, Jeff Henderson and Luvo Manyonga. They had a great competition, the best of the year for those two, but it still hurts that I didn't quite manage to muster that level of performance.
Sadly, picking up an injury so close to the Games put me in a bad position. I had an inner ear problem as well in the midpoint of the summer. It was as if this year, everything went wrong at the wrong time, whereas the year before and in the last Olympic cycle, everything fell into place perfectly.
I'm always in it to win it and it's so hard when that doesn't happen, because it affects your mindset. Maybe it'll be something I look back on in years to come and say, ‘no, actually it's brilliant’, but as it stands it's something I find quite difficult.
Greg Rutherford (GBR) of Britain poses with the bronze medal.Reuters
It's seeing videos back of it that makes me realise how close it could have been. There were other problems as well, like the round-four jump that was classed as a foul and then reinstated; there were lots of bits and bobs that went wrong for me on that day which meant I finished as an Olympic bronze medallist rather than retaining the title, which I so desperately wanted to do.
I still want to take part in Tokyo 2020
I have to be realistic and think that Rio could have been my final Olympic Games: I turn 30 next week, and I'm getting to that stage where my career may possibly finish. I'd like to think I will last another four years; I want to jump in Tokyo and go for the win again, or at least try for another medal. But I also know that if in the next few years my performances drop and my body gets worse, then I'll hang up my spikes and get out.
It's been a relatively successful career. In three Olympics I've won two medals - nobody in British long jump history has ever won two Olympic medals, so that's great - and I love being the first to do things within my sport, but equally there is always a sense that if this was the last time at an Olympics for me, it finished in slight disappointment rather than what it could have been. It could have finished in elation.
Rio was a challenging Olympics
The Brazilian people did a great job with the resources they had. It was inevitable after the amazing experience of London 2012 that Rio would feel different, there were some venues that appeared unfinished and the locations I felt could have been better thought out, as they were in Beijing and London. It was a strange games in many ways. For me, the athletics competition felt like another track meet, it didn't feel like an Olympic Games - perhaps because attendance was lower than normal. If I was in control I would have given away all unsold tickets to locals for free. The tickets were expensive even for visitors, so the prices sadly put the athletics largely out of reach for the locals.
Athlete Greg Rutherford holds his long jump gold medal during a parade as it passes St Paul's Cathedral in the City of LondonReuters
London was one of the most incredible games to take part in: everybody all around the country was so excited about the Olympic Games. In Rio, though, I couldn’t help but feel like there was a certain buzz missing, and I think that probably comes partly down to the fact the locals have bigger battles to fight than buy expensive tickets to the Olympics. Their government had obviously haemorrhaged vast sums of money to stage the games, and they did as well as they possibly could have done in the circumstances, but I can’t help but feel the games was rightly a secondary priority in the face of the economic hardship faced by many in Brazil.
I won’t rule out a change in sports
I tried the skeleton bob in 2014 and there have been some great athletes who have gone over to winter sports and done really, really well. If athletics finished tomorrow and I was still fit and healthy, I'd definitely try and find another sport to do well in, be that skeleton bob, downhill skiing, parachuting - who knows?
My tip for the next big thing in British athletics
Dina Asher-Smith is going to be one of our biggest stars, for sure. She's already carving a bit of a name for herself in the world of athletics and I saw her present an award at the MOBOs the other night as well so her profile is really on the rise.
Dina Asher-Smith 200m women Rio OlympicsReuters
She's an incredibly intelligent individual - I think she's studying history at King's College in central London - so she's somebody that's not only exceptionally talented but very bright; people will remember her for being more than just an athlete. When you’re a sprinter and you're successful, as she is and will continue to be, people really do take notice, and rightly so. She's certainly an athlete who I think is incredibly special and will in my opinion go on to become Britain's greatest-ever female sprinter.