Olympic champion Rutherford is jumping for joy

Olympic champion Rutherford is jumping for joy
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Great Britain's Greg Rutherford showed he will contend for the continental long jump title at the European Athletics Championships in Zurich this summer with his 8.51m in Chula Vista, San Diego, on Thursday 24 April.

It is almost two years since Greg Rutherford became Olympic long jump champion and now he has a new honour to his name.

With a stunning leap of 8.51m in Chula Vista, San Diego, on Thursday evening, Rutherford smashed the British record, a performance that will have all his rivals around the world taking notice.

He wrote on twitter on Friday morning: "It's 10 p.m. in San Diego and 6 a.m. in the UK. If you're just waking up I am now the British Record holder after jumping 8.51 today."

And no wonder Rutherford also added: "I'm shaking. I can't believe how amazing today has been. Absolutely buzzing, I’ve waited a long time for this."

Rutherford has now elevated himself to sixth on the all-time European Athletics rankings which are led by Armenian Robert Emmiyan with his 8.86m from Tsaghkadzor in 1987.

For Rutherford, it is the personal improvement that is the most eye-catching as he improved his lifetime best from 8.35m at this same venue in California in 2012.

That mark shared the British record with Chris Tomlinson, but now the Olympic champion stands alone on the national lists ahead of the European Athletics Championships in Zurich in August and, potentially, a brilliant clash with Russia’s World champion Aleksandr Menkov.

A year on from his Olympic success, Rutherford failed to make the final in Moscow as an injury-hit period took its toll. He had a best of 7.87m in qualifying before Menkov won gold with a magnificent performance, breaking the national record to win with 8.56m.

But that lull in Rutherford's career has been replaced with this display in Chula Vista on the West coast of the USA where he has been preparing for the outdoor season having competed just once during the winter, finishing third at the British Grand Prix in Birmingham in February with 8.00m.

Now he has this mark to go alongside the 8.31m that turned him into a national hero overnight, the distance which won him gold in the greatest 45 minutes in British athletics history at the Olympics in London in 2012.

Rutherford took everyone by surprise as he lifted the sport's biggest crown with his fourth round jump, the long jump competition taking place in the same hour that teammate Jessica Ennis was winning the heptathlon title and Mo Farah was storming to 5000m glory.

Even last year he said about that night in London: "It was the most emotional moment of my life, still almost impossible to put it into words."

He is probably feeling very much the same today - after the perfect jump to take him into the summer.