Jake Wightman clinched a stunning 1500m gold medal at the World Championships – with dad Geoff commentating on his shock victory.
The 28-year-old won Great Britain’s first gold in Eugene on Tuesday night, which was announced at Hayward Field by his dad and coach Geoff.
Wightman won in three minutes 29.23 seconds ahead of Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Spain’s Mohamed Katir.
He becomes the first Briton to win the 1500m in 39 years, since Steve Cram’s victory in 1983 and hopes he managed to break his dad’s style.
“Dad can be a bit of a robot on the mic sometimes, some people say robot some say professional,” he smiled. “I hope he broke that down today. It will be interesting to watch it back. My mum was in tears, at least someone was crying.
“I didn’t hear him, hopefully that’s because he was a bit emotional. One of the first things he said was ‘get ready for Commies (Commonwealth Games) now’.
“I’m 28 now, I don’t know how many more opportunities I will get to do this and I hope there is a lot more to come. I need to make the most of it. It’s important to hit the milestone like this, seven, eight-year-old me would never have believed.
“There are so many people who have helped me get to this point. My dad has coached me since I was 14 or 15. Every club coach from Edinburgh, Loughborough Uni, British Athletics have all played a part. The main thing is to now thank everyone who has helped me.”
Wightman, who had gone into the championships ranked second in the world, went for the win with 200m to go.
Ingebrigtsen was unable to react and Wightman held on to take the biggest win of his career. World Athletics then moved the medal ceremony forward to Tuesday evening because the original one clashed with his flight home on Wednesday.
“I didn’t want to leave this race like in Tokyo (2020 Olympics) where I didn’t give a true account of how I want to run and how I believe I could run,” he said.
“The important thing was to be at 200m strong. I thought ‘screw this, I’m going to give it a go’. If I ended up finishing fourth, I gave it a go. If I had finished second or third I’d given it a go to try and win. But I held on.
“Whatever happens in the rest of my career, I’m a world champion.”
Wightman has previously won European and Commonwealth bronze and only came 10th at last year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
“The main thing of Tokyo was it was way more disappointing than people realise,” he said. “I’m not a negative person but I felt pretty scarred by it. It was a real disappointing end to something which I thought was building up to be really special.
“That haunted me for a while. There were a lot of gaps which I realised needed filling, not just from the summer but the whole winter. We made those changes to come into these champs in a much better position.”
Wightman said being congratulated by Cram and Lord Sebastian Coe after the race made his success feel even more special.
“We’ve had some like size-14 boots to fill for a long time now,” he told BBC Radio 5 Live.
“I saw ‘Crammy’ up in the commentary bit and then it was Seb Coe presenting my medal. For them to be as pumped as they were – to be able to give the medal to me and Crammy sent me a nice message – it means a lot because they’re obviously the benchmark of British distance running and heroes of mine, so that makes it extra special.”
Dad and coach Geoff announced the drama as it unfolded in Oregon with mum Susan in the crowd.
“I’ve been doing his school sports day since he was about 11 because my wife’s been his PE teacher,” said Wightman senior. “So we’ve just taken it to a slightly bigger stadia, slightly bigger crowds and slightly bigger medals.
“I’ve been watching his races for all his life, since he started as a little kid in primary school and to come through and win a global title here of all places. The main thing is it made up for the Olympics.
“You only get one shot in four years. So I’m, very proud, very proud. He’s putting in a lot of hard work. He’s very meticulous in the way he prepares.”
He also underlined the need to be unbiased when announcing the runners and calling the race.
“We had some good 200m semi-finals, you just get into a certain groove. But each time, I’d think ‘he’ll be warming up now, he’ll be into the final callroom.’
“But then you’ve got to do the introductions and if I don’t keep it neutral during the 1500m, I don’t get to do it again.
“I’ve been doing 1500m since before Jake came on the scene. I’d love to do them. So I can’t be biased, I have to be impartial.”
Wightman’s teammate Josh Kerr tried to set the tone ahead of the final by winning his semi-final.
But the 24-year-old was unable to threaten the medal positions and missed out on being able to add to last year’s Olympic bronze to finish fifth.
Katharine Merry, a Sydney 2000 400 metres bronze medallist, posted a video on her Twitter account of Geoff Wightman calling his son’s shock 1500m victory, and tweeted: “Geoff calling his son becoming a World Champion is priceless.”
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