Rutherford opens season with 8.30m

Rutherford's up and running
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Greg Rutherford opened his outdoor season with a stunning 8.30m in Long Beach this weekend.

Greg Rutherford is the man with all the titles heading into this summer, and from the way he has started the season, he looks determined to keep hold of them.

The British long jumper made a brilliant opening in Long Beach, California, at the weekend when he won the long jump with an impressive 8.30m, at the Beach Invitational.

Last summer Rutherford completed the clean sweep of major outdoor honours, adding the world crown to his Olympic, Commonwealth and European glories and here is the first sign of how tough an opponent he will be this year.

Staying in California, Rutherford’s British teammate Desiree Henry also impressed this weekend as she lowered her 100m personal best in style.

Henry, 20, a 4x100m European gold medallist from Zurich 2014, triumphed at the Bryan Clay Invitational in 11.06, to break her fastest time of 11.11. She also won the 200m (22.98).

It is a big few weeks in the marathon world, and in Hamburg on Sunday, Germany’s Anja Scherl produced a stunning performance to put herself in contention for a place in their Olympic team.

As Ethiopian Meselech Melkamu broke the course record to win (2:21:54) with Meseret Hailu second (2:26:26), Scherl was third in a race run in blustery conditions, cutting her best time (2:36:31) by almost nine minutes to 2:27:50, while Poland’s Monika Stefanowicz ran a personal best (2:28:26) to finish fourth.

There were home triumphs in the Padua Marathon as Ruggero Pertile, now 41, won the men’s race (2:12:07) with fellow Italian Federica Dal Ri taking the women’s (2:37:05) on her debut over 26.2 miles.

And as Belgrade staged its marathon, there was a home win for Darko Zivanovic (70:34) and a victory for Montenegro’s Sladjana Perunovic (1:21:38) in the half marathons and over that distance in Jyvaskyla, the Finnish titles were secured by Jussi Utriainen (1:06:00) and Hanna Jantunen (1:17:38).

Turkey’s youngsters came to the fore as the country won the team title on Saturday at the 15th Balkan Walking Championships in Florina, with 9515 points from hosts Greece (8886) and Romania (6632).

The Latvian 10,000m Walking Championships took place in Aizkraukle, with wins for Agnese Pastare (48:06.8) and Arturs Makars (42:12.8) and at the traditional Polish walking event over 20km in Zaniemysl, Rafal Sikora won the men’s (1:27:44) and Katarzyna Zdzieblo won the women’s (1:34:49) in a personal best time.

There are 32 events across Europe this week, including the XXXIX Maraton de Madrid, a European Athletics Road Area Permit Race, on Sunday. For full information, go tohttp://www.european-athletics.org/calendar