Watt and Rutherford set for Olympic re-match
22 February 2013
ATHLETICS: Olympic champion Greg Rutherford of Great Britain will join Australia’s own Olympic silver medallist Mitchell Watt on the runway for the men’s long jump at the Go for 2&5 Perth Track Classic and the Qantas Melbourne World Challenge.
Providing the most anticipated head-to-head to date for the 2013 Qantas Australian Athletics Tour, the dynamic duo will thrill Australian crowds on 16 March in Perth and 6 April in Melbourne.
Watt has won a medal at every major championship he has competed in, with his trophy cabinet including Olympic and IAAF World Championships silver, and bronze from both the IAAF World and World Indoor Championships. He won the Samsung Diamond League in 2011, and that same year soared a monster 8.54m to eclipse the Australian and Oceania record then held by Jai Taurima.
Troubled by injury during the Australian season last year, the 2013 National Athletics Series will see Watt, who is coached by Gary Bourne, return to domestic athletics for the first time since he won his maiden Australian crown in 2011 with a world leading jump of 8.44m.
Watt said he was looking forward to facing off against Rutherford for the first time since the London Olympic Games.
“It’s fantastic to see that Greg will be out here to jump. He’s a great friend of mine and knowing that the long jump will be competitive is a huge thing for the Qantas Australian Athletics Tour,” Watt said from his training base in Brisbane.
“I actually can’t think of a time during my career when the long jump in Australia has had both the champion from a major championship as well as the runner-up and that’s a big coup for the events in Perth and Melbourne and hopefully something that brings the crowd out.
“At this stage my plan for the Australian season is to jump. Obviously you want a good preparation for the European season and of course the World Championships but I know now that big performances like I had at home in 2011 don’t necessarily mean the biggest success once you get overseas.
“To confirm my automatic selection for Moscow I need to jump at least 8.15 metres and that will be what I consider the minimum requirement this season. If I can push to the ‘A’ Qualifier of 8.25 metres then that’s a bonus.”
Thrilling the parochial British crowd in the main stadium on ‘Super Saturday’ at the 2012 London Olympic Games, Rutherford won gold with a leap of 8.31m. He is the British national record holder thanks to his 8.35m personal best, and his athletics career has included a Commonwealth Games silver medal, two victories across the Samsung Diamond League, and five national titles (including one indoor).
"The 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne were my first major championship. The crowd and atmosphere then was amazing and I certainly enjoyed it a lot and think I will again this time around,” Rutherford, who is coached by Dan Pfaff, said.
"I've never been to Perth, but my training partner Steve Hooker got me all excited about it. I've heard the facilities are great and it's a fast track and a good place to jump. I'll be staying in Perth for a couple of days and will hopefully be able to enjoy the Western Australian lifestyle with a visit to the beach."
"I'm excited to get the chance to compete against Mitch in Australia. We are rivals, but he is also a good mate. I hope we'll get a great crowd and show the people why Long Jump is such a great event."
Watt and Rutherford have battled it out on seven occasions, with Watt leading the duel four to three. In a positive sign for the Australian, Rutherford has never beaten him outside of England.
“Ironically the head-to-head count is in my favour, but on the big stage he won gold at the Olympic Games, so from my perspective it isn’t necessarily about winning now but instead being able to do that in six months time in Moscow,” Watt continued.
“I’m very confident in my pre-season this year. I was almost tempted to head overseas to train after London to mix things up a bit, but that wasn’t to be this year and I’m certain that has probably been beneficial for me. I’ve put in the hard yards at home and I’m hoping that translates across this season and beyond.”
This latest announcement by Athletics Australia further bolsters the stunning list of talent scheduled to compete across the Qantas Australian Athletics Tour.
Watt will be joined at Tour events by his Australian Flame teammates, including Olympic champion Sally Pearson (Qld), as they begin their push for IAAF World Championships selection, while the international charge will be led by Valerie Adams (NZL), Asafa Powell (JAM), Sunette Viljoen (RSA) and Calesio Newman (USA).
The Go for 2&5 Perth Track Classic will be held at the Western Australian Athletics Stadium on Saturday 16 March, with tickets ON SALE NOW here.
The Qantas Melbourne World Challenge will be held at Lakeside Stadium on Saturday 6 April, with tickets ON SALE NOW here.
For more information on the Qantas Australian Athletics Tour, please follow this link.