Juan Miguel Echevarria in the long jump at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Stockholm (© AFP / Getty Images)
When world, Olympic, European and Commonwealth gold medallist Greg Rutherford takes to the long jump runway at the Müller Grand Prix Birmingham on 18 August, it will be his final appearance at an IAAF Diamond League meeting.
The 31-year-old British record-holder has struggled with injury since taking Olympic bronze in 2016 but has committed to one more stadium competition in Birmingham to bid farewell to many of his fans, though the competition in Birmingham will be nothing short of stiff.
Among those in the field are the two best long jumpers in the world at current: world champion Luvo Manyonga of South Africa and world leader Juan Miguel Echevarria of Cuba.
Echevarria, 19, is widely regarded as one of the most exciting young talents in global athletics following his wind-assisted 8.83m leap in Stockholm last month, the longest jump in the world under any conditions for 23 years. Three weeks later, he set a wind-legal PB of 8.68m.
The 19-year-old Cuban missed the recent IAAF Diamond League meeting in London due to injury but will return to Birmingham and compete in the UK for the first time since he won gold at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 earlier this year.
In Echevarria’s absence, Manyonga won at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London, equalling his season’s best of 8.58m, his eighth jump of 8.50m or farther this year.
“I am really excited to have Echevarria in Birmingham and that I will have the chance to compete against him before I retire,” said Rutherford. “He, in my opinion, will go on to become the world record-holder and will become the greatest ever so it will be wonderful to compete against him in Birmingham.
“It’s a bit of a change of the guard, and that’s how I am looking at it. I have had my time in the sun and been the best in the world for all of those years, but now it’s like I am passing the torch on. Hopefully he will run with it and elevate the event to where it should be.
“The long jump is such an incredible event and I hope that from Echevarría’s successes, we see a whole new flood of new young athletes getting involved with long jumping.
“And once we keep pushing these kinds of athletes out and letting people see how incredibly talented they are, what we find is that those events will come to the top and people will really enjoy it."
Organisers for the IAAF