Jake Wightman’s dad has revealed he wasn’t surprised by his son’s 1500m World Championship win, and said it was down to a decade of hard work.
Wightman ran the race of his life to finish first in a field including Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, taking the gold medal with a time of three minutes 29.23 seconds.
What made Wightman’s triumph even more remarkable was that his dad Geoff, a former marathon runner, was commentating on the race at Hayward Field as he became the first British male to win the 1500m in 39 years.
Geoff said that the reaction to his son’s win had been amazing, and that after suffering disappointment at the Olympics, it had been a special day.
“It is one of those situations where my phone has melted,” he told STV. “So many people from years ago have been getting in touch. It’s very nice, it’s a nice feeling.
“It’s good. I’m fortunate enough to have my wife here as well. She’s fortunate enough to have been at most of Jake’s major races over the years.
“We’ve had good times and bad – it was just me and him in Tokyo, it wasn’t a happy memory but I think it’s laid the foundations for today.
“If you love athletics then you love the meetings and, fancy seeing your son get a world title. It’s unusual.”
The proud dad also said he was used to announcing his son’s races but that this latest success was “a bit bigger”.
“I’ve had a lot of practice,” he said. “You can go back to school sports days and I was announcing his races because my wife Susan was his PE teacher and I used to get roped into those sort of things at Fettes College in Edinburgh.
“So it’s probably 15 years that I’ve been announcing Jake’s races. The stadiums have got bigger, the medals have got bigger and the titles have got bigger.”
Geoff, who coaches his son, said that the win didn’t come as a complete surprise, having seen steady improvement and Jake now in his peak form.
“It’s the first (major title) he’s won,” he said. “He had a bronze in Gold Coast, fifth in Doha and this win is a bit different.
“It is Jake’s achievement. I’m just the Captain Mainwaring figure in the background checking the watch and blowing the whistle.
“Jake’s worked extremely over the last ten or 12 years for this to come good.
“It’s been a progression. I was surprised how many people regarded it as surprising that he won. Most people had him down for a medal or top five.
“Not many people had him down for the win but I have to be truthful and say that didn’t completely surprise me because he is in the best form of his life.
“So I always thought it was a possibility. He would have to run a very smart race, but he did.”
Hopes are now high for more success when Jake runs for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next month, though the 28-year-old didn’t appreciate being reminded of his next challenge so soon after becoming World Championship gold medallist.
“That was one of the first things I said to him, though it didn’t go down that well. he said ‘Let me have tonight!’,” Geoff said. “He’s on a flight back tomorrow. That would have been awkward because the medal ceremony was originally scheduled for 4pm and his flight was at 5pm so he couldn’t have done it. But they added the medal ceremony to tonight’s schedule.
“It is this unique summer of Worlds, Commonwealth and European.
“He’s not looking for selection for 1500m for the European Championships but the 1500m in Birmingham for Scotland is important to him, as it is for a lot of people.”