Jake Wightman claims he can use the European Athletics Championships as his graduation party – and prove he’s got the talent to deserve an Olympic call-up.
The Capital prospect, 21, admits he’ll have one eye on a 1500 metres medal when the heats of his event start tomorrow in Amsterdam and the other on gaining the Rio qualifying standard of 3:36.20.
After coming third at last week’s trials in Birmingham, the ex-European junior champion has gone Dutch without domestic rivals Chris O’Hare and Charlie Grice, who are resting for the Games. And he’s vowed to put his feet down in a bid to make the Euros a launchpad towards Brazil.
“I want to make the final but I have to hope the heat or final will be quick enough to get an Olympic standard as well,” Wightman said. “I’m hoping there’ll be a few more guys who are just outside which would make it intense enough to push for a quick time. If I end up in a heat with another Brit, I might have a word with them to push things along.”
After sitting out the 2014 Europeans due to injury, Amsterdam represents a first senior call-up for the Edinburgh AC hope.
“I had the chance two years ago and that would have put me in better stead for 2015,” he said. “But it’s nice to finally do a major championships. At the outset of this season, it seems like it would be a consolation prize. But now I’m here, and I’ve seen the field, it’s pretty much a full-strength field other than Chris and Charlie. It’s not a weak event so I’ve got something to get my teeth stuck into.”
Meanwhile, O’Hare insists he’s got no regrets about passing up on the chance to be a 1500m European champion. The 2014 bronze medallist was among a wave of high-profile absentees opting to remain at a pre-Olympic training camp in France rather than entering the fray.
“Most of the people at Europeans won’t be at the Olympics so we’re one up on them at this point,” said O’Hare. “Anyone in that position would give up a European medal in a heartbeat to be on the start line in Rio.”