High Expectations for Jumps and Middle Distance Stars in Stockholm

High Expectations for Jumps and Middle Distance Stars in Stockholm


A trio of international stars spoke to the world’s media at the official Stockholm Bauhaus Athletics press conference this afternoon ahead of tomorrow evening’s IAAF Diamond League, with long jumpers Greg Rutherford and Michel Torneus, and middle distance man, Ayanleh Souleiman offering their aims for the event and thoughts on their seasons so far.

Making his competition debut in Stockholm, Great Britain’s Rutherford – the Olympic, European and Commonwealth champion – revealed:

“I’m hoping the weather holds up for tomorrow – it’s a good place to jump and I love competing in Sweden so it’s going to be a good competition.

“I’m looking to jump far, I’m never one to shy away from competing against the best in the world, that’s why I’m doing the Diamond League circuit – I love jumping against these guys.”

The 28-year-old has a 2015 best of 8.35m and following wins in Birmingham and Oslo, Rutherford hopes to add the only major championship title which has eluded him – the world crown, in the IAAF World Championships in Beijing next month:

“The more experience you gain, you learn from the positives and the mistakes – my belief’s very high so mentally, I feel strong and physically, my body’s got better as the years have gone on,” he said.

“You never want to put a limit on what you can do – with the perfect conditions, you can sometimes have the ability to do something incredible.

“I need to iron out some technical issues but I think I can jump further than I’ve jumped – I’d love to get over the 28-foot mark.”

Having taken the 2006 European silver medal in Gothenburg, he has stayed friends with Sweden’s Torneus ever since, and Rutherford explained that to further his career as he is reaching his peak, he has taken the unusual efforts to have a long jump runway and pit installed in his back garden:

“My dad’s a builder so I challenged him to help us build it and it gives me a stable base to not leave home as much, what with having my young son,” divulged Rutherford.

“There’s two lanes to sprint as well – I’m super keen for these guys (his fellow competitors) to see it and see how it feels. It’s going to be tested so it’s fully legitimate – hopefully, it will be certified on the 12th of August, it’s interesting to say the least.”

Local man Michel Torneus, meanwhile, is set to compete in only his second competition of the summer following injury.

The 29-year-old – who leapt a national record of 8.30m to win the European indoor crown in Prague back in March – explained:

“I’m happy to be here, it’s been a tough summer for me with hamstring problems I couldn’t get rid of – I’m happy to be back competing and I hope to be fit for Beijing.

“It (winning the European indoor title) was a big thing for me as I’ve been competing for a long time – to stand on top of the podium, I was very happy and with my mark.

“I was super motivated after the indoors but I had to step back and try to train – I’ve only been training at 70/80% and off a shorter approach.

“I just need to find it I competition, I’m getting there and I have time to work on it and do the best I can with the situation I have – I’ll do 100% and see where I land.”

Torneus will next participate in the Swedish Championships before deciding on whether to travel to Beijing – if he does make it to China, he has stated that he intends to be in the mix for the medals.

A third long jumper, Andreas Otterling gave his views on his 2015b campaign and hopes for tomorrow.

The Swede twice jumped 8.06m earlier this month to replicate the distance he leapt to win the European indoor bronze medal four months ago:

“This is a new experience for me, to be in the Diamond League – I hope to get 8.10m to qualify for the World’s and it will be an awesome competition with Michel and I,” he said.

“This is the place you want to be as an athlete, taking the opportunity to compete against the best.”

On his recent best form at the age of 29, Otterling continued:

“I jumped triple jump until I was 25 and then I had many problems with my back so I didn’t expect to be at this level but it’s a nice surprise.”

Meanwhile, world indoor 1500m champion, Ayanleh Souleiman spoke of his aspirations to achieve a fast time ahead of an attack on world glory next month.

The 22-year-old Djibouti athlete – who scorched to a 1:42.97 800m national record two weeks ago in Monaco – revealed:

“The World Championships are more important but tomorrow it’s different, I want a fast time – Kiprop (Asbel, Kenya’s world champion and the current world-leader with 3:26.69) and some others have ran very fast this season so I want to 3:27/2:28 tomorrow.”

Explaining that he intends to pass the 400m mark in 54 seconds, 800m at 1:50 and cover the final 300m in 39/40 seconds, Souleiman continued:

“It’s possible I’ll double (by competing in both the 800m and 1500m) – there’s a rest day between the two events so I want to do it.

“I’ve been training with my group to replicate the tactics that we should expect – it will be crazy so you have to be prepared. I’m always tired after racing as it’s so physical.”

The IAAF Diamond League winner over 800m in Doha and in the mile in Eugene recently, Souleiman’s 3:30.17 season’s best looks likely to be revised judging by his recent training and he offered his thoughts on preparing for two distances:

“There’s not a big difference between the 800m and 1500m for me,” he said. “I still do my speed-work and had a good training camp with Mo Farah (the double Olympic and world 5,000m and 10,000m champion from Great Britain) recently. The 1500m is tactical and the 800m is faster.”

Local hope Andreas Almgren will contest the 800m four weeks on from his 1:45.59 national junior record and the 20-year-old is aiming for the 1:45.45 Swedish senior record tomorrow evening.

The world junior bronze medallist placed seventh in the 2014 event and revealed:

“It feels very good to be here, I had a cold two weeks ago but now I’m fit so I’m hoping to run fast tomorrow.

“I think I have a real good chance to break the record tomorrow – it’s a good field. I always go for the victory, the time will come eventually.”

Aiming to pass the 500m mark in under 51-seconds then 600m in 1:17, Almgren insisted he can handle physical races well and that he likes Stockholm’s 1912 Olympic Stadium despite the fact it is the home to his football team’s biggest rival.

Shocking the media with his ability to recite the commentary from one of Denmark’s Wilson Kipketer’s 1997 world record race word for word, he continued:

“I hope to get to the semi-final in Beijing and hopefully run a quick race there – anything can happen in a major championships but I want to fight for my spot in the final. I’ve had lots of experience, hopefully I’ve learned something.”


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