Great Winter Run: Jake Wightman out to put things right in 2018
Jake Wightman admits that reliving his horror show from last year's IAAF world championship was the stuff of nightmares but the Capital star insists it can help him fulfil his dream of a major title this year.
The former European junior champion, 23, starts his 2018 campaign back in his home city in tomorrow’s Simplyhealth Great Edinburgh XCountry as part of the Scotland quartet competing in the 4x1000m relay in Holyrood Park.
It’s a one-off outing on soft terrain for Wightman who will jet out to South Africa on Monday for a warm weather training camp ahead of the indoor season and then bid to challenge at the Commonwealth Games.
But Wightman’s disappointment in London last August, when he crashed out in the semi-finals of the 1,500m, provided harsh lessons that he’s now determined to implement.
“I knew straight away afterwards what I’d done wrong,” he said. “It’s always cringe worthy when you know you had a bad race and then you watch it back. There’s no pleasure in seeing it again.
“I remember speaking to [coach] Andy Young afterwards and he said: ‘there’s no point even being seen until the last 300m.’ That’s what I did wrong so tactically that’s what I need to keep doing now – staying patient.
“I thought I’d cracked it. It was just at British Champs and the Worlds where I panicked and I paid the consequence.
“But what’s exciting about this year is the two outdoor championships aren’t global championships so there’s a more realistic chance of coming away with medals.
“Commonwealths is an opportunity. Same with the Euros in Berlin. Now I’ve a good idea of how I can win the Europeans. I still have to make the team because we’re so strong domestically, but I feel it’s something I can win.”
Before that Wightman will break with tradition and have a proper crack at the indoor season – with March’s World Indoor Championships in Birmingham on his hit-list.
It’s an ideal way to sharpen up for Commonwealths but also a chance to prove he’s a man for all seasons.
“If I can get a decent run at World Indoors it will put me in good stead for Gold Coast,” he said. “It’s always been the plan to go there. World Indoors is a stepping stone for Commonwealths but if it goes well, I can have three goes at a major championship this year.
“That’s a good thing for my progression in the sport and it also gives me more experience for 2019 when I’d love to do the Europeans in Glasgow.”
The BBC televised Edinburgh XCountry will feature a three-way contest between Great Britain & Northern Ireland, Europe, and the USA with the Americans led in the men’s 8 kilometre by past winner Garrett Heath.
The European team features Kaan Ozbilen and Yasemin Can, the two Kenyan-born Turks who secured the Euro Cross titles in Slovakia last month.
Laura Muir, who captained the British team to victory 12 months ago, will go head-to-head with Wightman in the Stewart Cup relay.
“Each year, it’s helped build momentum,” Muir said. “It was exciting doing it for the first year but now each time, I’ve learnt from it. I’ll see what the conditions are but I’m looking forward to getting out there on Saturday.
“For a lot of the Scottish athletes, like me, I remember going there when I was younger and racing the Inter-Districts and then watching the elite events. So a lot of us grew up competing there in the morning and seeing the big races in the afternoon. And it’s great to be part of it still.”