Updated: Wednesday, 14th November 2018 @ 4:49pm

Retiring long jump great Rutherford hoping to 'do a Romero' with cycling switch

Retiring long jump great Rutherford hoping to 'do a Romero' with cycling switch

| By Max Chesterton

Olympic champion Greg Rutherford has pledged to follow in the footsteps of Sir Bradley Wiggins and attempt to pursue a career in track cycling when he retires from athletics next month.

Following a series of long-standing ankle injuries, the 31-year-old announced his intention to retire from long jump in June and enter broadcasting.

But a career in sport remains alluring for the London 2012 gold medallist, who believes he can potentially take up a career in the velodrome after producing his final jumps at the Great North City Games.

“It’s one of those things that you don’t know if I am going to be any good, I might be terrible at it,” said Rutherford, who joined the public in running two kilometres around Buille Hill in Salford for #teamparkrun; a campaign that will see National Lottery-funded Olympic and Paralympic heroes inspire local communities across the UK to get active.

“I cycle a lot anyway recreationally, predominantly mountain biking, so being in a velodrome is going to be very different, but it’s a thing I am willing to try.

“I have always been good at producing speed and power, hence why I was a good long jumper.

“What I am never afraid of is failing - I am happy to give things a go. Now that I am retiring, why not try another sport?”

It would not be the first time that the 2015 world champion tried his hand outside of long jump after briefly flirting with entering the skeleton bobsleigh programme.

But after deciding to focus on track and field rather than qualifying for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, Rutherford went on to win a second Olympic medal by scooping bronze in Rio.

Now, after seeking the advice of several cycling greats, the long jump Grand Slam winner is aiming to follow in the footsteps of Olympic individual pursuit gold medallist Rebecca Romero, who was victorious four years after rowing to silver in Athens.

He said: “I have spoken to a few cyclists themselves including Joanna Rowsell Shand and Dani Rowe, and they seem quite keen on the idea of me doing it.

“When you get the backing of those sorts of people, then absolutely why not.

“Rebecca Romero famously managed to win a medal in rowing and then cycling. If I can do something like her then it would be wonderful.

“But I have not spoken at length with any of the guys that have transferred to another sport.”

MORE BIG NAMES NEEDED

Rutherford was one of 12 British gold medallists on ‘Super Saturday’ at London 2012, but persistent ankle injuries halted the 2014 Commonwealth champion’s progress in recent years.

And while the 31-year-old is willing to come to terms with the culmination of a glittering 13-year career, he believes that British athletics in its strongest position in years after a dominant European Championships that saw Britain finish top of the athletics medal table.

That included a triple gold-medal haul for Dina Asher-Smith, a sprinter who looks set to get better and better in the eyes of an athlete who has seen and done it all before.

“Dina has become a household name – we need more big names out there,” added Rutherford, who will take part in several parkrun events as part of UK Sport’s initiative to allow elite athletes to say thank you to the public for their support.

“Back in 2012 she was a kit carrier, it’s one of those things of how much can change in the last six years.

“She has gone from somebody who was just looking up to other athletes and now being one of the greatest in the world.

“It’s a good time for track and field and a good time for letting the new kids come through.”

To thank the public for their support through playing The National Lottery, Britain’s top athletes will volunteer as tail walkers at parkrun events across the UK from 18 August to 9 September. Everyone is welcome at #teamparkrun - be part of it! www.teamparkrun.com