Nottingham born middle distance runner Jake Wightman has won Great Britain’s first Gold Medal at the World Championships in Oregon, US. After beating Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigsten into second place during the men’s 1,500 metre final at Hayward Field in Eugene.
It was a huge shock for the runner who these days resides in Linlithgow, Scotland, who’s watching parents were both marathon runners, his father was actually in attendance as Stadium Announcer for the event, commentating for those inside the arena, former athletics star Geoff Whiteman who ran in the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland and in the European Championships in Split that same year, both times finishing sixth, was put through the public pain barrier as he commentated the closing yards on his son’s victory with the now famous words blurted, after his prodigy crossed the line in first place of ‘that’s my son’ and ‘running’s coming home’.
Wightman Jnr, now 28-years-old is the first GB athlete to win the 1500m since Steve Cram (also commentating on the event for the BBC) won famously in 1983 and did so in a super quick time of 3mins 29.23secs, his quickest ever and the Championship’s fastest ever time, just short of a couple of lengths in front of his nearest rival.
A former Commonwealth & European bronze medallist, this is Wightman’s finest achievement by some way, but the reason you might not have heard of him locally until now, is that the runner, despite being educated at the nearby Loughborough University in Leicestershire as well as at St Mary’s, Twickenham in London, has long run for the Edinburgh AC team and has largely represented Scotland at International level.
As runners, parents Geoff (who is Scottish) & Susan (who is Welsh) were both internationally renowned, Susan Tooby, as she was known prior to marriage, finished sixth in the 1986 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh over 10,000m and 12th in the 1988 Seoul Olympics over the marathon event.
Moving up from Bristol to Nottingham during the mid nineties, with their three children, the Wightman’s then soon moved to Scotland where Geoff would become CEO of Scottish Athletics, he is still coach of son Jake and stated on Twitter “There’s one organisation that I really must thank, especially on a day like this, and it’s the British Milers Club. From 2nd in the ‘F’ race in 2012 (in a PB) to World Champion in 2022. Middle distance is the engine of the British team at present. The BMC has contributed hugely. Thank you.”
James himself stating after his momentous win “It’s mad, I had such a disappointing year in Tokyo last year (in the Olympics), I don’t think people realise how crushing it was to go with such high expectations, coming away hoping for a medal and ending up with tenth.”
“Here I just had to take the pressure off, only thing that could happen is that it was a better run than last year, and I got a whiff of it. In the last lap, I knew if I was there with 200 to go, I was going to do everything I could to put myself in a position to win it, and I was running for my life that home straight”.
*Main image @AthleticsWeekly Wightman crosses the line to win the 1500m final.