Greg Rutherford reveals 'thrill seeker' youth - and he's 'gutted' about Strictly

Greg Rutherford

Greg Rutherford has revealed he is "gutted" about leaving Strictly but says that it was an amazing experience.

The Olympic long jumper described dancing the quickstep with Natalie Lowe as "out of this world".

"It was a great time, I think, if you're going to go out at any time of Strictly," the 30-year-old tells Newsbeat.

"That's a really, really good time to go."

"Obviously I'm gutted that I'm out, but it was an amazing experience that lasted an awful lot longer than I ever expected."

Greg Rutherford and Claudia Fragapane in the dance off

But his exit from the show wasn't without controversy.

He lost the dance off to gymnast, Claudia Fragapane, and was in the bottom spot despite the fact Ed Balls was the lowest scoring celebrity of the night.

Some fans were so outraged they called for the politician to quit the show, but Greg says it's time to throw support behind him instead.

Greg Rutherford dances with Natalie Lowe

"People love his personality, he's got so much better from where he started," he says.

"With Strictly it is about taking people and teaching them a new skill."

The long jumper also revealed some of the themes in his new autobiography.

His parents were Jehovah's Witnesses which meant, he says, missing out on a lot of the things other children take for granted.

He didn't celebrate Christmas, Easter or birthdays, for example.

I was going off car-surfing, hanging off the top of a car... doing all these daft things that an athlete really shouldn't be doing
Greg Rutherford

"I didn't do any of that at all as a child," he explains.

"I was in the scenario where I was watching everyone else around have these celebrations and go to birthday parties and all that kind of thing.

"The fact that we had a different religious belief didn't really enter my head at that age," he says.

"I just wanted to have parties and I just wanted to be given presents."

But he says his upbringing did give him a strong sense of right and wrong.

"To know when I was doing the naughtier things, like when I was stealing the odd packet of sweets.

"Or when I was going off car-surfing, hanging off the top of a car and when I was doing all these daft things that an athlete really shouldn't be doing."

Greg Rutherford holding the Union Jack
Image caption Rutherford won gold in London and bronze in Rio

And as a teenager he admits he did get into a bit of trouble.

One of his and his friend's favourite things was rummaging through skips in the local trading estate in Milton Keynes where he grew up.

"We used to nick all the card because there were all these dirty great boxes in them and we used to make a camp," he says.

"We'd drink and then basically fall asleep in a stupor. And we sometimes did it in a park there as well.

I've got an IAAF certified long jump runway in my back garden
Greg Rutherford

"It portrays me in a very different light to how people see me, but as a kid you do these things and I enjoyed the thrill of potentially being chased as well."

He explains that all the way through his teenage years he felt the same, always searching for excitement.

"I never did anything really severe but trespassing, stealing the odd thing," he says.

"I wouldn't advise it to anybody, but for me it was this thrill seeking that I always searched for.

"I always reverted back to thinking well, do you know what, my parents would be very disappointed with me doing this and that helped me as I got into my early 20s."

Greg Rutherford with his girlfriend Suzie Verrill and son, Milo

He also talks about his son, Milo, and says his upbringing shaped how he approaches parenting with his girlfriend, writer, Susie Verrill.

"Your dad being an Olympic champion and Suzy being a very good writer, I don't think that's particularly normal," he explains.

"So we want to make sure there are some of the aspects of our lives growing up in his."

Despite that, there is one aspect of their home life that's a bit unusual.

He revealed he's got an IAAF [International Association of Athletics Federations] certified long jump runway in his back garden.

"How I'm going to sell the house, I don't know," he laughs.

"But maybe there's another very good long jumper out there somewhere."

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