World Athletics Championships
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Britain’s Jake Wightman crosses the line to win the men’s 1,500 metres final. Photo: Reuters

World Athletics Championships: Briton Wightman takes surprise 1,500m gold with dad commentating

  • Geoff Wightman manages to keep emotions in check while working as stadium announcer at Hayward Field
  • Jake Wightman outkicks Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen on final lap to claim victory

Briton Jake Wightman took a superb world championship 1,500m gold as he outkicked Olympic champion and hot favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen on the final lap, with his proud father Geoff calling him home as the stadium announcer.

Wightman’s father and coach, used to the combination by now but never previously seeing such a victory, somehow kept his emotion in check as he called his son home on Tuesday (US time), though he did allow himself a moment to announce to the Hayward Field fans: “That’s my son and he’s world champion”.

On an emotional night all-round, Wightman celebrated the first World Championship gold in the event for former middle-distance powerhouse Britain since Steve Cram – also in the stadium commentating for the BBC – in the first event in 1983. He then received his gold medal from double Olympic 1,500m champion and World Athletics President Sebastian Coe.

Wightman said of his father’s reaction: “I’m glad he showed some emotion! I’ve been with him since I was like 14 probably as a coach and before that my mum said less stuff.

“It’s a special moment for him as well. For him to be part of my journey to get to this point and actually be part of the the actual race itself is so unique that I hope he can celebrate as much as he likes.”

Wightman said he had been inspired by British teammate Laura Muir’s bronze medal in what was an absolute cracker of a women’s 1500m in Eugene.

“I was pretty inspired watching Laura and it’s hard not to be when she ran as good as that,” he said.

“I just hoped I could replicate and get a medal. That was a bronze or silver. I would have been very happy but to actually come away with flipping gold like that’s the dream.”

Wightman’s winning time of 3 minutes, 29.23 was the fastest in the world this year and underlined his pedigree. Ingebrigtsen took silver, with Spain’s Mohamed Katir finishing strongly for bronze just ahead of compatriot Mario Garcia.

Kenyan duo Timothy Cheruiyot and Abel Kipsang set the early pace but when Ingebrigtsen eased to the front with two laps to go there looked to be only one winner.

Wightman, however, is a notable tactical racer and was not about to sit back and watch the show. He stayed tight on Ingebrigtsen’s shoulder and then did what almost nobody does – went alongside the Norwegian on the back straight of the final lap and then got his shoulder in front with 200m to go.

With Ingebrigtsen unable to respond, Wightman then drove on to cross the line looking utterly shocked.

Ingebrigtsen said: “I felt good but I made some mistakes and didn’t keep up in the last 200. I’m owning it, but somewhat disappointed. It’s an honour to get a medal of course and I’m very happy for Jake.”