Long jump glory for Rutherford
A year after fearing his career was over, Greg Rutherford defied the doubters who branded his Olympic gold a fluke by landing the Commonwealth long jump title in Glasgow.
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The 27-year-old launched himself out to 8.20 metres to take victory and put the memories of his injury-ruined 2013 season firmly behind him.
The Milton Keynes athlete came into the event ranked number one in the world following his British record jump in April and lived up to expectations, coming out on top in his battle with South Africa's Zarck Visser by eight centimetres.
"It's a fantastic feeling. This is ultimately why we do it," he said.
"The early mornings, the hard sessions. That cliche of blood, sweat and tears - this is why you do it, to stand on top of the podium with a gold medal."
Rutherford started impressively with a first leap of 8.12m, but was knocked down to second on countback when Visser went out to the same distance with his second jump.
The Englishman hit right back, though, going out to 8.20m with his very next jump to the roars of the packed Hampden Park crowd.
His next effort was even bigger, but a marginal foul earned him a red flag.
It was a flag bearing the cross of St George which Rutherford draped round his shoulders shortly after, though, as, beaming the broadest smile inside the packed stadium, he embarked on his lap of honour.
Rutherford, who famously won gold along with Jessica Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah on Super Saturday at London 2012, hit the comeback trail this year after a nightmare 2013 campaign in which he split with his coach Dan Pfaff, lost his sponsorship deal with Nike and suffered a hamstring tear so serious it left him questioning his future in the sport.
He failed to make the final at the World Championships in Moscow last August and the critics, including former athletes, were quick to start sniping.
Having linked up with young coach Jonas Tawiah-Dodoo last autumn, though, he has returned to form, jumping out to 8.51m in April, although the leap sparked sparked controversy as his team-mate Chris Tomlinson claimed it was a "large foul" and should be scrapped from the record books.
There was no doubting his performance at Hampden, though, even if he had been unsure of his fitness going into the final because of a hamstring problem.
"People are always going to write you off. The Olympics came as a shock to some people, but I had been working so hard for that moment in London," he said.
"This year I have probably been working beyond hard to make sure that I could win a major title again. It wasn't the most incredible distance in the world but I knew that I could do it.
"I considered quitting at one point with my hamstring. I thought my career might be over, so the fact I have managed to win a major championship is just amazing.
"It's a fantastic feeling. This is ultimately why we do it. It wasn't the most incredible performance in the world in terms of distance, but to come away with a gold medal is fantastic.
"It proves everything I have been doing is the right thing to be doing. My fourth-round jump could have been a really big talking point.
"My therapist drove up from London to treat me and (110m hurdles silver medallist) Will Sharman because I was worried my hamstring wasn't going to hold up. It had been giving me gip. But I held up and managed to win a major championship, which is amazing."
Tomlinson had to make do with fifth place, while the third Englishman in the final, JJ Jegede, was seventh.
Tomlinson said: "The bottom line is Greg was the best long jumper there and deserved to win and he won it."
There was more medal success for England as Jessica Taylor took heptathlon bronze, but disappointment for Martyn Rooney, who had to settle for fourth place as the imperious Kirani James, the 21-year-old Olympic champion from Grenada, took 400m gold in a Games record 44.24 seconds.
Rooney, who had looked so impressive in the semi-finals on Tuesday, left himself too much work to do down the home straight as all three medallists dipped well under 45 seconds.
He said: "The guys ran very fast and what I thought would medal would have come fourth anyway. The other guys ran very well."
In the absence of new mum Ennis-Hill and her heir apparent Katarina Johnson-Thompson, the 26-year-old Taylor produced her best on the big stage, finishing with 5826 points to hold on to a podium place.
Elsewhere, home favourite Eilish McColgan, whose mother and coach Liz won Commonwealth gold over 10,000m in Edinburgh in 1986, came home sixth in the 3,000m steeplechase as Purity Cherotich Kirui led home a Kenyan one-two-three.
England's Chris Baker had to settle for fourth in the high jump, missing out on bronze on countback after clearing 2.25m.
Kenyan David Rudisha, whose Olympic 800m gold and world record in London provided one of the highlights of those Games, coasted effortlessly into Thursday night's final in 1:46.61, with Scotland's Guy Learmonth and England's Michael Rimmer also making it.
Back at a major championship after two failed elbow operations and finally an elbow reconstruction, Goldie Sayers finished seventh in the javelin with 57.68m.
Rachel Wallander was fourth in the shot put, New Zealand's Olympic champion Valerie Adams taking gold.