Olympic champion pulled out of the British squad yesterday after suffering an ankle ligament injury
GREG RUTHERFORD has been forced to admit defeat in his battle to defend his long jump title at the World Championships.
Rutherford pulled out of the British squad yesterday after suffering an ankle ligament injury in the latest blow to British medal hopes at London 2017.
The Olympic champion, who won gold on Super Saturday at London 2012, said: “In the last few days I have had to accept an unfortunate reality.
“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.
“With an incredible start to the year in training, and very promising early season form, I have had a difficult series of setbacks as the season progressed.
“Most recently, a badly damaged ankle ligament and a sportsman’s hernia, really put paid to my plans. The injuries have taken longer to heal than we hoped, and I have been unable to even jump at all in training, let alone compete.
“I am truly gutted. That 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.
“But, I’ll definitely be there to support my British team mates and soak up what will be an amazing atmosphere, and an amazing championships.
“My focus will now turn to 2018 and becoming a three time European champion on the trot, something no long jumper has ever done before.”
British performance director Neil Black said: “Greg is one of only a few British athletes to complete the ‘Grand Slam’ of medals, but that won’t make missing London any easier.
“He desperately wanted to defend his world title in front of the home crowd.”
Rutherford would have been a genuine medal candidate if fit and his withdrawal is the latest blow to a team beset with injury problems.
In another hit to medal hopes reigning 60m European Athletics Indoor champion, Richard Kilty has also been forced to withdraw from the 4x100m relay squad, after breaking a finger on his changeover hand.
Adam Gemili did not make the individual 200m after selectors refused to give him extra time to recover from a leg injury – although he is named in the 4x100m squad.
And European 200m champion Dina Asher-Smith is also battling to bounce back from a broken foot she suffered in February.
Five athletes have now been added to the team after the final cut-off date including long jumpers Shara Proctor, who won silver at the last world championships in Beijing two years ago, and Jazmin Sawyers – who earlier this year was a competitor in the hit TV show The Voice.
SunSport revealed last month that the medal target for the British team in London is 6-8 but with a strong of injury woes that is looking increasingly challenging.
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