Wightman stuns the favourites to claim World 1500m title in Oregon

Jake Wightman

Jake Wightman (handicap -6.8) became Great Britain & Northern Ireland’s latest global champion – and first in the men’s 1500m for nearly 40 years – in sensational style on day five of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, running the absolute perfect race in the final for the greatest moment of his career.

Wightman (handicap -6.8) was in contention throughout the entire 1500m final and, when he executed his move around the back straight and with 200 metres to go, he was untouchable, clocking a huge personal best and world lead of 3:29.23 minutes to double the British team’s medal tally after Laura Muir’s (handicap -3.1 ) 1500m bronze 24 hours before. Teammate Josh Kerr (handicap -6.9) meanwhile was a quality fifth in 3:30.60.

The 28-year-old’s gold is one of British athletics’ greatest moments since Dina Asher-Smith’s 200m title in 2019 – and she blasted her way into another half lap final as the fourth fastest overall with a season’s best 21.96 seconds. The chance to defend her World Championship crown now coming on Friday in Oregon.

 With a clear plan in mind, Wightman positioned himself in the front five for the first half of the race and looked extremely comfortable in doing so. He was very well placed in that group of five at the bell and would soon hit the front and never let it go.

He moved on Norwegian leader Jakob Ingebrigtsen on the back straight and then with 200 metres to go powered to the front. No one could, and would, catch him as Wightman lit up the home straight to clock a huge personal best and world lead 3:29.23 for gold.

Not since 1983 has a Briton (Steve Cram) won World Championship gold in the men’s 1500m but that is history now and Wightman, who was presented with his gold medal by Lord Sebastian Coe, admitted he has never doubted his ability to achieve this feat.

He said: “It probably won’t sink in until I have retired I don’t think. It’s mad. I had such a disappointing year in Tokyo last year. I don’t think people realise how crushing it was to go in with such high expectations and come away hoping for a medal but end up tenth.

“I just knew coming here I had to take the pressure off and the only thing that could happen was that it was a better run than last year. I got a whiff of it on the last lap. 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.

“What’s the point starting a race and not putting yourself in a position not to win it? The opportunity was there. Jakob is so good I knew at some point he was going to come past so I gave it a go and the closer I got to the line the more likely I felt that wasn’t going to happen.

“I have given up so much to get to this point and it makes everything worth it. I learnt last year that the rounds were a lot of more tactical than you thought so I tried to be under the radar going through. I never gave up in my confidence to get to this point. I am so glad that I have been able to do what I have dreamed of since I was a kid.”

Wightman was joined in the final by fellow Brit and Edinburgh clubmate,  Josh Kerr who held back behind that pack of five for the first 800m. He would then make progress and was well positioned at the bell.

It wasn’t to be for the Olympic bronze medallist however as Wightman proved too good for all, Kerr’s time of 3:30.60 still a season’s best and good enough for fifth among a highly competitive field and he was full of admiration for his teammate.

He said: “It was very exciting to watch and very fun to race in. I pushed myself to the limits and that was the result. Obviously I’m disappointed to not come away with a medal but Jake Wightman is a true champion and I’m really proud of what he achieved today.

“It was world record pace for the first 400m and you’ve got to settle in and make good decisions. I think I made those sorts of decisions but maybe I wasn’t fit enough to run and go win it from the front. But I can’t be disappointed with that because I gave everything I had today.

“You can see why Wightman won the British Champs this year. He’s a stray dog in the dog fight out there, and he was able to come out on top. I knew Wightman was good enough to medal last year, and I know he’s determined to get it at this one, so it’s awesome for him. That was the run of his life. Even though I didn’t come away with the medal, the title went to my team, my country, my city and my club.”

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