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Jake Wightman stuns 1500m to claim world title when dad comments | World Athletics Championships

As Jake Wightman celebrates the biggest and most dramatic heist of this world championship to claim Britain’s first gold medal at Eugene, the giant screen at Hayward Field suddenly turns to the stadium announcer.

“I have to tell you why the cameras are on me,” said Geoff Wightman, former top marathon runner and voice for athletics around the world. “That’s my son. I trained him. And he is a world champion.”

Somehow Wightman held back tears after a moment that was definitely unprecedented in broadcasting as well as elite sport history. But slumped on the track in the same state of shock was his son, who had just run the race of his life for gold.

Few expected this. Not the bookies, which makes him a big underdog. Or British Athletics who had booked Wightman on a flight home on Wednesday – meaning his medal ceremony had to be pushed forward almost 24 hours immediately after the race.

But while the 28-year-old is an outsider in a stellar field that includes Tokyo 2020 medalists Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Timothy Cheruiyot and Josh Kerr – as well as Abel Kipsang, the world’s fastest man in 2022 – father and son have always believed.

In the depths of winter they are carrying out plans to strengthen Wightman Jnr by running more cross country and 3,000m races so that when he reaches this final in Eugene he will still conserve strength in his legs to take advantage of his 1min 44sec 800m pace. . And on a day when temperatures crawled into the 90s, the plan worked perfectly.

Wightman remained in close contact with the leaders as the first Kipsang, who had not lost a race all season, and then 2019 world champion Cheruiyot fell back after the 700m. That’s when Ingebrigtsen, Olympic champion and fastest man on the field, took over.

But trying as hard as he could, the Norwegian couldn’t get away from Wightman, who scored from 200m and held on for gold at 3:29.23. “Jake Wightman is just living his life,” Geoff said at the PA stadium as his son crossed the line, before admitting. “I lost my voice.”

Geoff and Susan Wightman with their world champion son Jake di Eugene. Photo: Ashley Landis/AP

Ingebrigtsen was second in 3:29.27, with Spain’s Mohammad Katir third, just over half a second adrift. Kerr, another Briton in the race, was never threatened enough, and could only finish fifth.

“The only point of having a good 800m PB in a race like that is if you are up there with 200m to go,” said Wightman, who previously only had bronze medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and the European Championships to his name.

“I know the odds are in my favor later in the race. I feel strong but Jakob is a beast and I don’t know if he will get through and there is no screen.

“I had the confidence that if I tried and went through it I might get silver, but it never happened and I am world champion.”

Asked about his father, he smiled: “He can be a robot on the microphone sometimes – some say robot, some say professional. I hope he solves it today. It will be interesting to watch it again. My mother is crying, someone is crying!”

It was Britain’s first world 1500m gold medal since 1983 when the young Steve Cram won his first world title. And that pride was evident in Geoff’s voice as his son stepped onto the top of the podium saying: “Gold medalist, and representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Jake Wightman.”

Then Wightman explained why he was relatively calm. “I have been doing his school sports day since he was about 11 years old because my wife is his gym teacher,” he said. “So we just brought it to a slightly bigger stadium, a slightly bigger crowd and a slightly bigger medal.”

Then Wightman Snr started to smile. “But it was surreal to see him win gold. I thought, ‘I know that person. He has a familiar appearance.’”

Jake Wightman stuns 1500m to claim world title when dad comments | World Athletics Championships

Source link Jake Wightman stuns 1500m to claim world title when dad comments | World Athletics Championships

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