Jake Wightman takes sensational 1500m gold in World Athletics Championships

Edinburgh’s Jake Wightman clinched a stunning 1500m gold medal at the World Athletics Championships – with emotional dad and coach Geoff commentating on his shock victory as stadium announcer.

Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 11:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 20th July 2022, 2:32 pm

The 28-year-old won Great Britain's first gold in Eugene, Oregon to become the first Briton to win the 1500m in 39 years, since Steve Cram's victory in 1983. Wightman is also the first Scot to win world athletics championships gold since Liz McColgan famously triumphed in the 10,000m in Tokyo in 1991.

He came home won in three minutes 29.23 seconds ahead of Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the pre-race favourite, and Spain's Mohamed Katir. Wightman's GB and Edinburgh AC teammate Josh Kerr finished fifth.

Dad and coach Geoff was the proudest man in the stadium as he described the drama unfold at Hayward Field, with mum Susan leading the celebrations as her boy cross the line first.

“Jake Wightman has just had the run of his life,” he announced over the tannoy. “My voice has gone. “That’s my son. I coach him. And he’s the world champion.”

Geoff is the former chief executive of Scottish Athletics, which led to Jake growing up in Linlithgow being schooled in Edinburgh at Stewart's Melville and Fettes College.

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“I’ve been doing his school sports day since he was about 11 because my wife’s been his PE teacher,” said Wightman senior. “So we’ve just taken it to a slightly bigger stadia, slightly bigger crowds and slightly bigger medals.

“I’ve been watching his races for all his life, since he started as a little kid in primary school and to come through and win a global title here of all places. The main thing is it made up for the Olympics.

“You only get one shot in four years. So I’m, very proud, very proud. He’s putting in a lot of hard work. He’s very meticulous in the way he prepares.

He also underlined the need to be unbiased when announcing the runners and calling the race.

"We had some good 200m semi-finals, you just get into a certain groove. But each time, I'd think 'he'll be warming up now, he'll be into the final callroom.'

Edinburgh's Jake Wightman celebrates with his medal after winning the men's 1500m final at the World Athletics Championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. Picture: Jewel Samad / Getty

"But then you've got to do the introductions and if I don't keep it neutral during the 1500m, I don't get to do it again.

"I've been doing 1500m since before Jake came on the scene. I'd love to do them. So I can't be biased, I have to be impartial."

Jake hopes his achievement managed to break his dad's commentating style.

"Dad can be a bit of a robot on the mic sometimes, some people say robot some say professional," he smiled. "I hope he broke that down today. It will be interesting to watch it back. My mum was in tears, at least someone was crying.

Geoff and Susan Wightman celebrate with their son Jake after he wins gold in the men's 1500m at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon. Picture: Landis/AP/Shutterstock

"I didn't hear him, hopefully that's because he was a bit emotional. One of the first things he said was 'get ready for Commies (Commonwealth Games) now'.

"I'm 28 now, I don't know how many more opportunities I will get to do this and I hope there is a lot more to come. I need to make the most of it. It's important to hit the milestone like this, seven, eight-year-old me would never have believed.

"There are so many people who have helped me get to this point. My dad has coached me since I was 14 or 15. Every club coach from Edinburgh, Loughborough Uni, British Athletics have all played a part. The main thing is to now thank everyone who has helped me."

Wightman was already the fastest man this year and went for the win with 200m to go. Ingebrigtsen was unable to react and Wightman held on to take the biggest win of his career.

"I got a whiff of it on the last lap,” he explained. “I knew if I was there with 200m to go I could put myself in a position to win it and I was running for my life on that home straight.

Jake Wightman reacts after crossing the line to win the men's 1500m final. Picture: Jewel Samad / Getty

"I have given up so much to get to this point and it makes everything worth it."

The victory marked a considerable turnaround for Wightman, who finished 10th at the Olympics in Tokyo last year.

"I didn't want to leave this race like in Tokyo (2020 Olympics) where I didn't give a true account of how I want to run and how I believe I could run," he added.

"The important thing was to be at 200m strong. I thought 'screw this, I'm going to give it a go'. If I ended up finishing fourth, I gave it a go. If I had finished second or third I'd given it a go to try and win. But I held on. Whatever happens in the rest of my career, I'm a world champion."

Wightman has previously won European and Commonwealth bronze but last year's Olympics was a disappointment.

"The main thing of Tokyo was it was way more disappointing than people realise," he said. "I'm not a negative person but I felt pretty scarred by it. It was a real disappointing end to something which I thought was building up to be really special.

"That haunted me for a while. There were a lot of gaps which I realised needed filling, not just from the summer but the whole winter. We made those changes to come into these champs in a much better position."

Kerr tried to set the tone ahead of the final by winning his semi-final. But the 24-year-old was unable to threaten the medal positions and missed out on being able to add to last year's Olympic bronze to finish fifth.

He said: "That is awesome, so awesome for Jake. I am disappointed for myself but proud of my team-mate Jake.

"I couldn't think of a more deserving guy, such a legend, so nice, hardworking, honest, and I am super proud of what he has achieved."