Serious whiplash injury threatens Rutherford’s long-term health

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After suffering whiplash due to an awkward fall in the long jump pit at the Birmingham Diamond League on 5th June 2016, Greg Rutherford could become deaf in his left ear if he carries on with athletics. There is a 25 percent chance that he will not make a full recovery.

Just three days prior to the Birmingham IAAF Diamond League, Rutherford competed at the Rome Diamond League where he was critical about the amount of recovery time in between jumps.

The long jumper told Athletics Weekly: “It was a bit of a farce,” he said. “Recovering between rounds is hugely important. You just get tired. It’s not easy. It’s only 45 metres and jumping into a sandpit but if you do it at the velocity that we’re doing it at, it takes a lot out of your body.”

The comments were made in response to the new Diamond League rules which give all the athletes three jumps and only the top four athletes are permitted a further three jumps, thus resulting in less time in between jumps.

While in Rome, Rutherford sustained a neck injury and the lack of recovery time may have been a factor in this. Despite the inconveniences, Rutherford took maximum points at the Rome Diamond League but his unbeaten season came to an end at the Birmingham Diamond League, where the Marshall Milton Keynes athlete had to settle for fifth.

With little time to recuperate from Rome, Rutherford felt that it was better to skip the Birmingham Diamond League. The Telegraph reports Rutherford saying: “I knew I shouldn’t have jumped in Birmingham because my neck felt really stiff.” The 29-year-old has also had endured sleeping problems which may further disrupt his preparation for Rio.

However he decided to go ahead and compete in Birmingham and this may have worsened the injury which led to Rutherford missing out on the British Championships and Olympic trials last month also held in Birmingham.

While it’s important for athletes to compete at the British Championships in order to have the opportunity of gaining access to a place in the Olympic squad, due to his gravitas as the defending Olympic, Commonwealth and European champion, Rutherford has been granted a degree of leeway.

There is, however, no guarantee that Rutherford will be on the plane to Rio and he must prove his form. Currently in sixth position in the world rankings this year, Rutherford has jumped 8.31 metres which is 20 centimetres outside of his personal best of 8.51 metres recorded in 2014.

While the British Championships were going ahead, Rutherford stayed at his training camp based in Arizona, USA, to ensure that he could be fit for the European Championships in Amsterdam. The long jump concludes on 7th June.

Another key event to precede the Olympics will be the London Anniversary Games or the London Diamond League. However, Rutherford may bow out of the fixture taking place on 22-23 July in protest at the new Diamond League rules which Rutherford has branded as “dangerous.”

It would perhaps be wise to take precaution this time around and Rutherford has admitted that he may have ended his season if it had not been an Olympic year, but he is keen to take the necessary risks in order to get back on the podium in Rio.

Thankfully for Rutherford, regular rules of six jumps per athlete will continue at the Olympics and he will be hoping to join the Team GB athletics squad next month alongside fellow 2012 Olympic champions: Mo Farah and Jessica Ennis-Hill.

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First published on: 6 July, 2016 12:00 am

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