20th July 2018



Twelve months after the success of last year’s IAAF World Championships and World Para Athletics Championships, the biggest names in athletics are looking forward to returning to London for this weekend’s Müller Anniversary Games (21-22 July).

At the pre-event press conference, Dina Asher-Smith, Greg Rutherford, Christian Coleman, Stef Reid, Luvo Manyonga, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, Renaud Lavillenie, Luke Sinnott and Regas Woods, all shared their excitement of competing at the London Stadium once again.

But, for one athlete in particular, the overriding feeling this weekend will be emotion as British long jumper Greg Rutherford competes at the London Stadium for the final time; the venue of his Olympic gold medal during those 44 magical minutes at London 2012.

Speaking ahead of his final appearance, Rutherford said: “This is going to be a very emotional weekend for me. Every time I compete in the UK it is very emotional. Since London, I have had an amazing reception every time I step out into the stadium and it does bring a tear to the eye and that’s going to be no difference on Sunday. It’s going to be a very emotional weekend.”

The Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth champion will bring his glittering long jump career to an end later this year, and the 31-year-old wants to enjoy his final time competing inside the London Stadium.

“I am really looking forward to going out there and enjoying it. I am in a very different place than a few years ago. I am not now coming into Diamond League events and saying ‘right, I’m here to win it’. I know my body is in a bit of a rough place, which is frustrating, but equally I have had to accept it. For me just going out and jumping half decent will be nice,” Rutherford added.

Rutherford is part of a star-studded men’s long jump competition on Sunday, featuring Olympic champion Jeff Henderson and world and Commonwealth champion Luvo Manyonga.

Manyonga said: “I was crowned world champion here so it’s like a coming back home feeling. Producing those distances last weekend [at the Athletics World Cup] shows I am in good shape. I am looking forward to a great competition, an exciting event, and to just go out there and enjoy it and have fun.”

The home crowd will certainly have plenty to cheer for across the weekend, including British 100m and 200m record holder Dina Asher-Smith in the women’s 200m.

Asher-Smith said: “I have been really happy with how this season has gone because obviously last year was not the most ideal situation, especially with a home championship. This weekend will be a really good chance to improve on my seasons best in 200.

“I want to put together a good race in front of the home crowd. It always fills my heart full of joy when I race in front of the crowd, so I am really excited about doing the 200 here,” Asher-Smith added.

Seven-time world champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce will compete over 100m, and she too has fond memories of London having won Olympic gold in 2012 and she will return this weekend, less than a year after giving birth to her son, Zyon.

Fraser-Pryce said: “A lot of people look at it like you have had a baby, so you must be finished. I do get asked that question a lot, but I’m like ‘I’ve just had a baby that’s all’. It’s a blessing to be able to have my son and to be able to come back and compete again. I am really looking forward to be being back in London this weekend. It’s a hard battle but it makes the victory even sweeter.”

Among those starring in the men’s 100m field will be the USA’s world 60m record holder Christian Coleman, who returns to the London Stadium with fond memories from last year’s IAAF World Championships.

Coleman said: “I love coming to London. Obviously, I have got great memories here. I was at the track earlier and it brought back a lot of memories and I am looking forward to making more.

“It was my first major championships and I came here and got a silver medal, which is something I will never forget.”

2012 Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie was also full of praise for the British crowd.

The Frenchman said: “It’s a very good stadium. I love competing in England, people love track and field and it shows in their support. Every time I have competed in this stadium I have been able to make something good, so it’s a good feeling to be in this place again.”

Many of the stars from last year’s World Para Athletics Championships will be in action throughout the weekend with 12 Paralympic and world medallists, boasting over 85 major international medals between them, competing across the five Para events.

T44 long jump world champion Stef Reid said: “It’s special every time you walk into the stadium. It’s great because spectators and athletes know that something special and big will happen. I have so many great memories and I love coming back to this stadium.”

The USA’s Regas Woods and Great Britain and Northern Ireland’s Luke Sinnott are both looking forward to being back inside the London Stadium as they take to the start line in the men’s T61 200m.

Sinnott said: “200 is not my usual discipline, but I have trained hard and it’s going to be exciting to compete on one of the best tracks in the world. I am looking forward to showing other double amputees that we can run and hopefully that will encourage more people to take up the sport.”

Woods added: “This stadium is THE stadium. London sets the bar high. The energy, the people, the athletes – I love it. I love coming to London. It feels like home. It’s always exciting to hear the crowd roar as you cross the line.”

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