Continuing Slate’s team coverage of the 2012 London Olympics long jump competition, here’s an update on the action from Friday’s men’s qualifying round. In a shocking development, Beijing gold medalist Irving Saladino of Panama did not advance to Saturday’s 12-man final after fouling on each of his three attempts. American Marquise Goodwin did make it through, however, tying for first with a leap of 26 feet 7 1/4 inches. That’s about 33 inches behind Mike Powell’s world record.
Qualifying in fourth place, just a bit more than an inch behind Goodwin, was Greg Rutherford. Though three men remaining in the field have soared further than Rutherford in their careers, the British medal hopeful has the longest jump in the world this year at 27 feet 4 3/4 inches—just a hair longer than Saladino’s gold-winning effort at the 2008 Games.
It’s worth pondering, though, whether the 25-year-old Rutherford (seen above in a photo from the 2010 Commonwealth Games) has an unfair advantage over the rest of the field, as he is able to reach otherwise unattainable speeds because he is always being chased down the runway by pirates and jewel thieves.* Also, his dog Snowy constantly barks at the judges, which distracts everyone.
When I Googled “Greg Rutherford Tintin” this afternoon to see if anyone else had made the connection, I only found one reference. On Jan. 28, British sprinter James Ellington tweeted “Tin tin aka @GregJRutherford,” including a link to this image of the Hergé character. Rutherford’s response to his Team GB compatriot: “love it. But I worry if I link up a random black guy you’ll call me racist! :P lol.”
Someone calling Tintin racist? Come on, that could never happen.
Correction, Aug. 4, 2012: This sentence originally said Rutherford reaches “attainable” rather than “unattainable” speeds.