Greg Rutherford in the long jump at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games (© Getty Images)
Defending Olympic champion Greg Rutherford flirted with elimination but eventually the reigning Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth champion, after two fouls, scraped into Saturday’s final with his third effort of 7.90m to finish 10th overall.
However, a measure of how close Rutherford came to failing to make tomorrow’s final can be seen by the fact that if he had jumped five centimetres less, then he would have been out.
With the two qualifying pools operating side-by-side in the Olympic stadium, only two men managed to exceed the automatic qualifying distance of 8.15m
On a good day for Chinese athletes called Wang, last year’s IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 bronze medallist Wang Jianan leapt out to 8.24m in Group B with his first attempt to make quick work of qualifying.
It is worth noting that Wang is still 19 and doesn’t cease to be a teenager until later this month on 27 August.
US champion Jeff Henderson progressed equally rapidly in Group A with his first jump of 8.20m but everyone else, with one exception, had to or decided to take all three jumps.
Only four more men went over eight metres, the best of the rest being Uruguay’s Emiliano Lasa with 8.14m, who will be aiming to get his country’s first ever Olympic athletics medal.
Just getting into the final means that Lasa has equalled the best ever performance by a Uruguayan male athlete at the Olympics.
Notable non-qualifiers included Sweden’s Michel Torneus – who was fourth in London four years ago, finished second to Rutherford at the European Championships last month and a month ago jumped a national record of 8.44m, albeit at altitude in Spain – who could do no better than 7.65m.
Gao Xinglong, fourth in Beijing and a winner at the IAAF Diamond League in London last month, registered three fouls to deny China a full complement of three jumpers in the final.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF