Jake Wightman won an impressive gold medal in the 1500m at the World Championships – with father Geoff commenting on his shocking victory.
The 28-year-old won Britain’s first gold in Eugene on Tuesday night, which was announced at Hayward Field by his father and coach Geoff.
Wightman won by three minutes and 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 1983 victory and hopes he has managed to break his father’s style.
“Dad can be a little robot on the mic sometimes, some people say robot, some people say professional,” he smiled. “I hope he broke it today. It will be interesting to see him back. My mother was in tears, at least someone was crying.
“I didn’t hear him, 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 am 28 years old now, I don’t know how many more opportunities I will have to do this and I hope there are many more to come. I need to make the most of it. It’s important to hit the milestone like that, seven, eight years old, I would never have believed it.
“Many people helped me get here. My dad has been training me since I was 14 or 15. Every club manager from Edinburgh, Loughborough Uni, British Athletics all played a part. The main thing now is to thank everyone who helped me.”
Wightman was already the fastest man this year and went for the win with 200m to go.
Ingebrigtsen couldn’t react and Wightman held on to the biggest win of his career. World Athletics then postponed the medal ceremony to Tuesday night because the original collided with his flight home on Wednesday.
“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 race and how I believe I could race,” he said.
“The important thing was to be at 200m of force. I thought ‘screw it, I’ll try’. If I finished fourth, I’d give it a go. If I had finished second or third, I would have tried to win. But I held on.
“Whatever happens for the rest of my career, I am a world champion.”
Wightman has already won bronze in Europe and the Commonwealth and only placed 10th at last year’s Olympics in Tokyo.
“The main thing about Tokyo was that it was a lot more disappointing than people realize,” he said. “I’m not a negative person, but I felt very scared about it. It was a really disappointing ending to something I thought was becoming really special.
“It haunted me for a while. There were a lot of gaps that I realized needed to be filled, not just in the summer, but all through the winter. We made these changes to get these champions in a much better position.”
Dad and Coach Geoff heralded the drama as it unfolded in Oregon with Mom Susan in the crowd.
“I’ve been doing his school sports day since he was 11 because my wife was his gym teacher,” said Wightman senior. “So we just took it to a little bigger stadiums, a little bigger crowds and a little bigger medals.
“I have followed his racing all his life, ever since he started as a kid in elementary school and came and won a global title here of all places. The main thing is that it was made for the Olympics.
“You only get one chance in four years. So I’m very proud, very proud. He’s doing a lot of work. He is very meticulous in the way he prepares.”
He also stressed the need to be impartial when announcing runners and calling the race.
“We had some good 200m semifinals, you just get into a certain rhythm. But each time, I thought ‘he’s going to be warming up now, he’s going to be in the final call room’.
“But then you have to do the introductions and if I don’t stay neutral during the 1500m, I can’t do it again.
“I’ve been doing 1500m since before Jake came on the scene. I would love to do them. So I cannot be biased, I have to be impartial.”
Wightman’s teammate Josh Kerr tried to set the tone ahead of the final by winning his semifinal.
But the 24-year-old failed to threaten the medal positions and missed the opportunity to take last year’s Olympic bronze to finish fifth.
Katharine Merry, bronze medalist in the Sydney 400 meters at Sydney 2000, posted a video on her Twitter account of Geoff Wightman calling out her son’s shocking victory in the 1500 meters and tweeted: “Geoff calling his son to become a world champion priceless”.