Jake Wightman clinched a stunning gold medal in the 1500m at the World Championships – with his father Geoff commenting on his shock victory.
The 28-year-old won Britain’s first gold medal in Eugene on Tuesday night, which was announced at Hayward Field by his father and coach.
Wightman won in three minutes 29.23 seconds ahead of Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Spaniard Mohamed Katir.
He becomes the first Briton to win the 1500m in 39 years, since Steve Cram’s victory in 1983, and hopes he has managed to upset his father’s pace.
“Dad can sometimes be a bit of a robot on the mic, some people say robot, some say professional,” he smiles. “I hope he broke that today. It will be interesting to see him again. My mum was in tears, at least someone was crying.
“I didn’t hear it, I hope it’s because he was a little emotional. One of the first things he said was, “Get ready for the Commies (Commonwealth Games) now.”
“I’m 28, I don’t know how many more chances I’ll have to do this and I hope there will be many more to come. I have to make the most of it. It’s important to cross the cape like that, me, at seven, eight years old, I would never have believed.
“There are so many people who have helped me get to this point. My dad has been coaching me since I was 14 or 15. Every club coach from Edinburgh, Loughborough United, British Athletics has all played a role The main thing now is to thank everyone who helped me.
Wightman was already the fastest man this year and took the win with 200m to go.
Ingebrigtsen couldn’t react and Wightman held on for the biggest win of his career. World Athletics then moved the medal ceremony forward to Tuesday night as the original one ran into its return flight on Wednesday.
“I didn’t want to leave this race like in Tokyo (2020 Olympics) where I didn’t really explain how I want to race and how I think I can race,” he said.
“The important thing was to be 200 meters away. I thought, damn it, I’ll try. If I finished fourth, I tried. If I had finished second or third, I would have tried to win. But I held on.
“Whatever happens in the rest of my career, I’m world champion.”
Wightman has previously won European and Commonwealth bronze and finished only 10th at last year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
“The main thing about Tokyo was that it was way more disappointing than people realize,” he said. “I’m not a negative person, but I felt pretty scarred by it. It was a really disappointing ending to something that I thought was going to be really special.
“It haunted me for a while. There were a lot of gaps that I realized needed to be filled, not just from the summer but from the whole winter. We made these changes to get into these champions in a much better position.
Dad and coach Geoff announced the drama as it unfolded in Oregon with mom Susan in the crowd.
“I’ve been doing his sports day at school since he was about 11 because my wife is his physical education teacher,” Wightman senior said. “So we just brought it to slightly bigger stadiums, slightly bigger crowds and slightly bigger medals.
“I’ve watched his races his whole life, from when he started as a little kid in primary school, and to winning a world title here of all places. The bottom line is that he’s compensated for the Olympic Games.
“You only get one shot in four years. So I’m very proud, very proud. He works a lot. He’s very meticulous in his preparation.
He also stressed the need to be impartial when announcing runners and calling the race.
“We had some good 200m semis, you just get into a certain rhythm. But every time, I think he’s going to warm up now, he’ll be in the last call room.
“But then you have to do the introductions and if I don’t stay neutral in the 1500m, I can’t do it again.
“I’ve been doing 1500m since before Jake came on the scene. I love doing them. So I can’t be biased, I have to be impartial.
Wightman’s teammate Josh Kerr tried to set the tone going into the final by winning his semi-final. But the 24-year-old was unable to threaten the medal spots and missed the chance to add to last year’s Olympic bronze to finish fifth.
Sydney 2000 400m bronze medalist Katharine Merry posted a video of Geoff Wightman calling her son’s surprise victory in the 1500m and tweeted: “Geoff calling his son to be world champion didn’t of price.
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