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Greg Rutherford - ginger, freckled, English - is roared to victory at Hampden

WITH his peely-wally complexion, freckles and shock of ginger hair, Greg Rutherford looks like he could be Scottish.

Greg Rutherford, the only star of 'Super Saturday' from the London Olympics at these Games, leaps to the long-jump title. Picture: Colin Mearns
Greg Rutherford, the only star of 'Super Saturday' from the London Olympics at these Games, leaps to the long-jump title. Picture: Colin Mearns

His name sounds as though he should be Scottish. And last night, even as draped himself in the cross of St George, he was embraced by the Hampden crowd as if he was Scottish. In a night of world class talent, it was ironic that the only man who proved capable of challenging him for the public's affections was a little known Scot called Guy Learmonth who was actually born in the English border outpost of Berwick, just south of the river Tweed.

As the Olympic long jump champion added the Commonwealth title to his resume, the Glasgow crowd treated him like one of their ain folk. With Jessica Ennis-Hill preoccupied with childbirth, and Mo Farah calling off due to stomach problems, at least one part of the holy trinity of Super Saturday had turned up at these games.

In fact, the 27-year-old is the only British gold medallist from the Olympics competing at these games full stop but it wasn't the first time a Rutherford had played to the galleries at Hampden Park. Greg's great grandfather Jock had played here for England against Scotland in a 1-1 draw in a world record crowd three times the size of this one.

"It wasn't the most incredible performance," he said. "But I'd like to think my great-grandad would be proud of me, yeah. A hundred years on or so I guess it's nice to have another Rutherford doing well."

The man from Buckingham might have expressed his unhappiness about the noise in the athletes' village, but he certainly seemed happy to be here yesterday, not least as he admitted he was so beset by hamstring problems last year made him briefly feel like quitting.

In chilly, wet, conditions, a leap of 8.12m with his very first bound of the competition was a statement of intent, and while he briefly ceded top spot to Zarck Visser when the South African jumped an identical distance with a better countback record, with his very next leap he had a lead at 8.20m which he would not relinquish.

"People say they don't see this as an important Games but you probably saw how much it meant to me," he said. "And to do it in Scotland it almost felt like a home crowd. Rutherford is a very old Scottish name and in hair colour and skin, I'm pretty much blue so I'll have to look into it."

Rutherford was not the only class act from London 2012 coasting to further triumphs yesterday. While Kirani James of Grenada smashed the Games record to take the 400m title in a time of 44.24secs, and David Rudisha cruised through to the 800m final, albeit fully a second behind the dangerous Nijel Amos of Botswana, what wasn't in the script was them being upstaged by a largely unknown Scot.

From the outside lane, Learmonth claimed the third qualifying spot in his heat behind Rudisha and his Kenyan countryman Ferguson Cheruiyot Rotich, the man who changed his name in honour of Sir Alex Ferguson. Moreover, his achievement was fuelled on a diet of a on old school peanut butter and jeelly piece, faithfully consumed three hours before race time.

"That was the race of my life without a doubt," said Learmonth, whose countryman Ray Bobrownicki finished out of the medals in the high jump. "But I thrive on big races. Rudisha is just chilling, but I'm just going to get on the back of that and run my heart out and my legs off. Was I expecting to get to the final? Probably not.

"But I'm there, so why can't I get a medal? I'm not going to run for eighth place. I'm going to give it my all. If I die I die, but I'm going for it."

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