COMMONWEALTH GAMES gold medallist Greg Rutherford will return to the North-East at the start of September after he confirmed his participation in this year’s Great North City Games.
Rutherford, who added the Commonwealth long jump title to his Olympic crown on Wednesday night, will compete on the banks of the Tyne when the City Games return to Newcastle and Gateshead on Saturday, September 6.
The 27-year-old is a big fan of the City Games concept, which sees some of the world’s leading athletes competing on the streets and pavements of major cities rather than in a more traditional stadium setting.
“I love competing in the Great North City Games so much because of the interaction you get with the public,” said Rutherford. “It’s fun for the athletes, and the public can come and go as they please.
“To be honest, I can see street athletics as the future of track and field. It’s just a fantastic concept.
“The crowds are always out in force on the Quayside. We get such incredible support from the people of the North-East and all the runners in town ahead of the Bupa Great North Run the following day.”
Rutherford made a winning debut in the Great North City Games in 2009, jumping 8.17m, but has lost on his last two visits to Tyneside, finishing runner-up to Australia’s Chris Noffke in 2010 and Teessider Chris Tomlinson in 2012.
Tyneside has a special place in Rutherford’s heart though, as his great-grandfather, Jock, was one of the stars of the great Newcastle United side of the early 1900s.
“I always have a little bit of a soft spot for Newcastle,” said Rutherford. “But being a Man United fan, I can't be too soft."
The Great North City Games take place on the day before the Great North Run, with crowds of up to 25,000 flocking to the Newcastle-Gateshead Quayside.