Capital athletes stay on track at World Championships

Jake Wightman breezed through to the 1500m semi-finals
Jake Wightman breezed through to the 1500m semi-finals
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The phrase “Tartan Track Thursday” was coined in The Scotsman yesterday and was adopted by the announcer at London Stadium last night as eight Scots – half of the record 16 representation – tasted World Championship action.

That stadium announcer, for the record, is Geoff Wightman, the father of Jake Wightman, who was one of the all-Edinburgh AC middle distance quartet who got up and running at the heats stage.

Lynsey Sharp was happy with her performance

Lynsey Sharp was happy with her performance

Wightman joined British champion Chris O’Hare in progressing to the men’s 1500m semi-finals, while Commonwealth silver medallist Lynsey Sharp made confident progress in the women’s 800m. Teenager Josh Kerr was the only one to miss out as he finished 11th in the first of the three 1500m heats.

Sharp kicked things off as she looked good, finishing in the second of three automatic qualifying spots behind Kenya’s Margaret Wambui in a time of 2:01.04. The 27-year-old kept her composure round the final bend before seizing on a gap on the inside to coast home on the Kenyan’s coattails to make tonight’s semi-finals.

The high number of Scots on show hadn’t gone unnoticed and when Sharp was asked about it she said: “Everyone keeps asking what do you do in Scotland that makes you so good. I’m like, ‘I don’t know, no-one has ever trained together apart from maybe me and Eilish (McColgan)’.

“I think it’s off the back of Glasgow [Commonwealth Games] – that was a real legacy and the team next year is going to be so competitive which is good.

“It’s so competitive to make the final. I’ve just got to take each round as it comes and run tomorrow as a final – that’s all I can do.”

The two Brits who beat Sharp at the trials both made it through, with Shelayna Oskan-Clarke finishing third in her heat and Adelle Tracey, who was one of the youngsters who lit the Olympic flame five years ago, through as a fastest loser after finishing fourth in hers.

Olympic champion and red-hot favourite Caster Semenya of South Africa was a comfortable winner of her heat.

After 19-year-old Kerr was given a tough baptism of fire in the first of the 1500m rounds, O’Hare and Wightman both produced solid performances to finish well inside the six automatic qualifying spots in tonight’s semis.

O’Hare was up with the leaders all the way around, had a little dart at the front on the final bend before settling back into third, where he remained after several looks over his shoulder to ensure he was safe as he clocked 3:42.53.

“To be fair, I got a bit excited tonight. With 400m to go I thought, ‘This is slow.’ Then the Kenyan boy [Ronald Kwemoi, who finished seventh and qualified as a fastest loser] did a good job of keeping me out so I had to go by him.”

As is often the way, the third heat was by far the quickest, with five of the six fastest losers coming from it. Wightman, 23, maintained a good position throughout and produced a strong finish to nail fourth place in 3:38.50.

Wightman had been edged into third by O’Hare and Kerr in the Scottish 1-2-3 at the Birmingham but made the team on a selectors’ pick.

“It was a bit shaky coming into this race and I wasn’t sure how I’d go,” he said. “But the problems have blown out now so I’m ready for semis. The atmosphere is electric for every single British athlete, there’s a roar which is just unreal.”

Fellow Scots Laura Muir and Eilish McColgan qualified for Sunday’s 5000m final.

British record holder Muir, who finished fourth in the 1500m on Monday, was in the first heat and had to come in the top five to be sure to advance.

Muir was overtaken by two athletes in the final 100m as she clocked 14 minutes 59.34 seconds to place seventh in her heat, which was won by Hellen Obiri of Kenya in 14mins 56.70secs.

Muir had to wait until the second heat concluded to learn if she would progress. She did so and was joined in the final by McColgan, who finished fourth behind Letesenbet Gidey of Ethiopia in the second heat, which was won in 14:59.34. McColgan clocked a personal best of 15:00.38. Compatriot Steph Twell finished 15th in 15:41.29.

GB team captain Eilidh Doyle trailed in last in the final of the 400m hurdles.