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Greg Rutherford pulls out of British Championships, focus on Rio

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Greg Rutherford has pulled out of this weekend's British Championships in Birmingham because of fitness concerns.

The Olympic long jump champion suffered whiplash on his last competition at the Birmingham Diamond League on June 5 and has taken a precautionary decision to withdraw from the Olympic trials.

However, the 29-year-old insisted his hopes of defending his Olympic title in Rio in August, or even his European crown in Amsterdam the previous month, were not in danger.

Rutherford, who is training in the United States, said: "I'm really disappointed not to be competing in Birmingham this weekend, but for me defending the Olympic title is my main focus for 2016.

"As a result, in consultation with British Athletics, we have decided not to take any risks, finish my training camp here in Arizona and focus on making sure I am in the best position possible to compete at the European Championships and win gold in Rio."

Rutherford revealed after seeing his nine-competition winning streak come to an end in Birmingham two-and-a-half weeks ago that he had exacerbated a problem picked up in Rome three days earlier and was unable to move his neck.

However, his general fitness rather than the neck injury specifically is understood to have prompted the decision to pull out of this weekend's event.

Not competing at the trials at the Alexander Stadium means Rutherford cannot guarantee his place on the Great Britain team for Rio. However, as the reigning Olympic, world, European and Commonwealth champion, he is of course certain to get a discretionary spot, injury permitting.

British Athletics performance director Neil Black said: "Defending the Olympic title is obviously Greg's main focus for 2016, so he has sensibly decided not to take any risks.

"We have seen time and time again that he knows what to do to allow him to go into a championships in the best shape possible, so we are fully supportive of this decision aimed towards retaining gold in Rio."

Lorraine Ugen, the long jump bronze medallist at March's World Indoor Championships, has also pulled out of the British Championships.