Jake Wightman today revealed he’s got the backing of track legend Seb Coe in a his bid to land a surprise 800 metres medal in the Commonwealth Games.
The Capital prospect, 24, bolted into second place behind Kenya’s Jonathan Kitilit in yesterday’s semis in Gold Coast in a time of 1:47.43, minutes after Lasswade ace Guy Learmonth crashed out.
But Coe, the boss of athletics world governing body, was among the first to congratulate Wightman as he stepped off the track.
“He met me and said well done,” he said. It’s funny because he’s popping up in the commentary for Australian TV, so he’s been mixing his roles up out here. I still get star struck by him, so it was a pretty nice thing to do. I would definitely take any advice I could get from him – but he might just leave me to do it.”
Wightman is now targeting a double here in tomorrow’s final, with the 1500 metres still to come later this week. But any medal I can get will be a top prize, he declared.
“My thinking behind it was that, if I won or even medalled in the 800, then came back out and the 1500 didn’t go so well, would I be that disappointed? I’m here to get a medal. No matter what the event.
“The opportunity to have two is very exciting. However the 800 goes, I’ve got to keep my focus for the 1500. Getting through the 1500 heat will be hard, because there will be some heavy legs.”
A distraught Learmonth confessed his legs buckled under the strain as he faded to sixth in his semi with a lack of hard training following a recent foot injury wrecking his bid.
“It’s the worst I’ve ever felt for the last 100,” the 24-year-old said. “I felt like I was walking – it probably looked like that as well. It’s one of those things. I was hoping to be ready for this. Obviously I had a wee injury which has set things back an awful lot.
“The foot’s fine now. I’ve already said it’s been a ten-week injury, not a three-week injury. It first happened at the end of December just as I came back from Portugal.
“Then I got moving again and it flared up again during the indoors. That’s the only reason I pulled out of the indoors. It’s fine now. There are no injuries, I don’t want to use anything like that as an excuse.”
In yesterday’s action, Eilidh Doyle stormed into tomorrow’s 400m hurdles final, winning her heat in 54:80.
Scotland’s Eilish McColgan and Steph Twell came sixth and seventh respectively as South Africa’s Caster Semenya won the 1500m.
Elsewhere today, Capital hope Allan Smith is in the high jump final while Paralympic medallist Maria Lyle goes head-to-head with Aussie rival Isis Holt in the T35 100m final, with the Dunbar teen enjoying the set-up of these Games.
“Competing along side able-bodied athletes is nice,” she said. “To experience what they experience is good as well. It’s a first Commonwealth Games, so you don’t know if your event will be included again so you need to enjoy this.”