Jake Wightman heads for sun after being bogged down at Holyrood
Jake Wightman today admitted swapping the soft mud of Holyrood Park for the warm sun of South Africa will come as a relief after the Capital prospect got bogged down at Saturday's Great Edinburgh International XCountry.
The World Championship finalist was part of a strong Scotland A team that finished a disappointing fifth in the 4x1000m relay as Laura Muir led Great Britain and Northern Ireland to an impressive victory.
“Not the start to 2018 I’d have wished for,” conceded Wightman, who will touch down in Potchefstroom today for a three-week training camp before beginning his quest to qualify for March’s World Indoor Championships in Birmingham.
“I just want warm weather to do some speedwork,” the 23-year-old confirmed. “I’ve only had one track session so I need a few more before I can attack the indoor time. That’s the disappointing thing – I feel I’m in good shape but it didn’t show at all.
“It’s a British Athletics camp and so the option was there. And rather than training indoors, I just want to get a little heat at altitude to set me up for World Indoors and Commonwealths.”
On what organisers revealed could be the final edition of the event in Edinburgh following the withdrawal of backing from the city’s Council, Muir gave a huge crowd in Holyrood what they wanted with a storming run from third to first as the British squad retained the Stewart Cup with Wightman, running the third leg, too far off the pace to give anchorwoman Steph Twell a chance.
“It was going to be hard when I saw the gap coming in – I literally had nothing to gauge,” he said. “I couldn’t get going because it was too soft.
“I’ve done one track session so far so I know I’m not that quick at the moment. I don’t really need too much pace, just some strength. That’s why it wasn’t a good a run for me. I didn’t do myself justice. I didn’t put Steph in a position in the last leg.”
Twell, now coached by Wightman’s father, Geoff, will join her colleague in South Africa with both eyeing next month’s New Balance Grand Prix in Boston, USA, as a route to secure World Indoor qualifying marks ahead of the UK trials.
Now 28, the Commonwealth Games medallist has rung the changes this winter in a bid to find an extra gear, eight years after the bronze in Delhi that brought a senior breakthrough following a glittering junior career.
“It’s crazy,” said Twell, whose rise was interrupted by a broken foot ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
“It comes around so quickly, which is the nature of the athletic calendar, the way you have to plan for everything. It knocks the weeks down quickly, having so much preparation to do.
“So yeah, it’s a third Games – and hopefully a fourth still in me. That’s definitely something I would like to do.
“As long as I’m performing in my sport at the top level, which I still think I am, certainly at British and European level
“As long as I’m competitive, I will be there. And the next step for me, in the coming years, is to see what I can achieve on the world stage.”
Kenyan-born duo Leonard Korir, representing the USA, and Yasemin Can, in Europe’s colours, won the senior races as Team Europe took overall victory in the points standings.
Kelsey Chmiel was triumphant in the junior women’s race for the United States with Norwegian prospect Simen Halle Haugen landing junior men’s victory after British hope Matt Willis faded to third late on.
In the adjoining Inter-Districts races, East’s Kris Jones took a convincing win in the senior men’s race while Irishwoman Fionnuala Ross, representing the West, was first home in the women’s event. North of England topped the team standings.