Commonwealth Games: Jake Wightman reflects on agony of finishing fourth

Jake Wightman looks back after his charge for a medal in the 800m final was not quite enough for a place on the podium
Jake Wightman looks back after his charge for a medal in the 800m final was not quite enough for a place on the podium
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Jake Wightman today vowed to bounce back stronger from his greatest disappointment to date after he finished fourth in the 800 metres final at the Commonwealth Games.

The 23-year-old from Edinburgh made a charge for a medal when the race truly kicked off with just the home straight ahead.

And although the former European junior champion was making up ground as he approached the line, he was held off by Luke Matthews in a two-way duel for bronze with Wycliffe Kinyamal of Kenya doing just enough to stay ahead of Kyle Langford despite a frenetic late gallop from the young Englishman.

“I thought I’d timed it perfectly for a medal,” said Wightman, who was due to join Chris O’Hare in this morning’s 1500m heats. “When I went past Luke I thought he was dying. The pace he came back at was more than I was expecting. I didn’t have anything to respond to. I don’t think I did too much wrong. I thought I ran all right. I just didn’t expect that to happen at the end. It’s pretty gutting.

“You never come into a championships wanting to finish fourth. You don’t want to finish with anything but the win.”

Gold was probably there for the taking, he reflected, with Botswana’s hot favourite Nijel Amos blowing up to finish dead last. Having missed out on last year’s World Championships final in London and fading horrifically in the European Championship final in 2016, he will again have to reflect and rebuild. But, Wightman conceded, seeing Langford, 22, impress once again is a source of inspiration. “Kyle timed it pretty perfectly and for there to be two non-Africans on the podium isn’t what everyone would have expected,” he said. “I thought Amos and the Kenyan would be there so I feel like I’ve missed a chance. It’s not through a lack of trying.”

His Edinburgh club-mate Lynsey Sharp had a harsher analysis of her efforts after crashing out of the 800 metres in the first round.

A silver medallist in Glasgow four years ago, the former European champion struggled to fourth place in her heat in 2:01.33 and will now have to hope for a spot in Scotland’s line-up 4x400m relay team in tomorrow’s final. “I executed my race as was my plan and it just wasn’t good enough,” she said.

“Some days you just don’t have enough to get it done and this was one of those days. Competition in the 800 is fierce and I faced many great competitors today.

“I can’t expect to advance when not firing on all cylinders. Training has been going really well but I have a few more things to work on to put it all together.”

Meanwhile, Pitreavie’s Eilidh Doyle revealed how hearing Wightman’s father Geoff on the loud speaker inside Carrara Stadium almost wrecked her pre-race routine before she recovered to take 400m hurdles silver for the third successive Games.

The 31-year-old produced a sterling sprint to come second behind Jamaica’s Janieve Russell, but hearing mention of her role, nine days earlier, as Scotland’s flag bearer on this same track threw her mind.

“Geoff said it right at the start, when he announced the line-up,” she revealed. “I was thinking: ‘Oh, cheers for that, Geoff!’ You forget about that when you run the race, you go on to autopilot. But it was a real special moment. And there were so many Scotland flags out there, as well. That made the lap of honour even more special.”

She can now take what might be her final shot at gold in the 4x400m, but even though the Scots – who can also call on World Championship medallists Zoey Clark and Kirsten McAslan and young hope Kelsey Stewart – are fancied for a medal, Doyle said it would not top this.

“That would be amazing. But I’m just so happy going home with a silver now.”