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Retiring hero Greg Rutherford still driven to prove people wrong | Sean Ingle

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Britain’s London 2012 long jump champion once had his achievements branded a fluke but he is now ready to again defy critics of his lofty ambitions

You know how Greg Rutherford celebrated his first day as a retired athlete? By turning up at the Whitley Bay junior Parkrun on Sunday morning to be a tail walker, chatting to kids from four to 14, and turning what might have felt like a 2km slog into a chance to high-five an Olympic champion. But Rutherford gets it. He understands that being a role model starts – not ends – with winning medals, although he was damn good at that too.

Has any British sports star squeezed so much pith and pulp from high class – if not truly exceptional – natural talent? Or been able to so consistently rise to the big occasion, when the heart is performing a particularly discordant drum’n’bass track? Even now, his achievements do not get the credit they deserve.

Related: Greg Rutherford retires: ‘I just don’t want to be in pain every day of my life’ | Sean Ingle

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