Wightman won his run and advanced to Saturday’s flagship final, a high-profile highlight of Birmingham’s athletics programme
” src=”https://www.nationalworld.com/webimg/b25lY21zOjAxNTU1NjI1LTc4NzYtNDI1MS04YjZlLWM4OTFiMzgzNWI3Yjo4NWYzMGYxNi1hOGVjLTQ3YzItOWZmNy1iNWVkODJkMDM0YTE=.jpg?width=640&quality=65&smart&enable=upscale” srcset=”https://www.nationalworld.com/webimg/b25lY21zOjAxNTU1NjI1LTc4NzYtNDI1MS04YjZlLWM4OTFiMzgzNWI3Yjo4NWYzMGYxNi1hOGVjLTQ3YzItOWZmNy1iNWVkODJkMDM0YTE=.jpg?quality =65&smart&width=320 320w, https://www.nationalworld.com/webimg/b25lY21zOjAxNTU1NjI1LTc4NzYtNDI1MS04YjZlLWM4OTFiMzgzNWI3Yjo4NWYzMGYxNi1hOGVjLTQ3YzItOWZmNy1iNWVkODJkMDM0YTE=.jpg?quality=65&smart&width=640 640w, https://www.nationalworld.com/webimg/b25lY21zOjAxNTU1NjI1LTc4NzYtNDI1MS04YjZlLWM4OTFiMzgzNWI3Yjo4NWYzMGYxNi1hOGVjLTQ3YzItOWZmNy1iNWVkODJkMDM0YTE=.jpg?quality=65&smart&width =990 990w” data-hero=”” fetchpriority=”high”/> Jake Wightman wins his men’s 1500 meters at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Jake Wightman wins his men’s 1500 meters at the Alexander Stadium, Birmingham. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
Jake Wightman admitted the notion of being a new world champion was just the boost he needed to get his Commonwealth Games campaign off the ground.
It’s been just 16 days since Wightman claimed 1,500 million gold in Oregon, and he admits emotions have been running high ever since.
But things got back to business in Birmingham as he won his heat to advance to Saturday’s flagship final, a high-profile highlight of the athletics program here.
“It’s so cool to be announced as the world champion, I never really thought about it until it happened, but there’s a real boost of confidence,” Wightman said.
“It was even nice to just walk around the corner just to have people clapping and saying to me: Well done and good luck, it’s special.
“That’s definitely the most I’ve internalized since it happened. I thought, ‘Yes, I actually did that’.”
While there is a lack of sparkle at some events at these Games, the same cannot be said of the 1500m, with Kenya’s former world champion Timothy Cheruiyot among those hot on Wightman’s heels.
Half of the 12-man final field will come from Great Britain, with Australia’s Oliver Hoare being the fastest qualifier.
Wightman will be joined by Scotland teammates Josh Kerr and Neil Gourley, England’s Elliot Giles and Matthew Stonier and Wales’ Jake Heyward, an Olympic finalist 12 months ago in Tokyo.
Eilish McColgan’s stunning 10,000m gold medal was still the talk of the town at Alexander Stadium this morning and Wightman admitted it had made him very emotional.
There are few athletes more popular than McColgan, whose career has too often been a tale of injuries and near-medals.
“It’s so inspiring. I was shocked by that, I know she was in good shape as we were in Colorado Springs at the same time, but she’s had a rough couple of weeks,” Wightman added.
“Her Eugene performances probably weren’t how she wanted them to be. I don’t think people realize how hard it must have been to turn around and run like she did.”
Meanwhile, Zharnel Hughes was the quickest qualifier for Friday’s men’s 200m semi-final, where he will join England team-mate Adam Gemili in his first race since splitting from controversial American coach Rana Reider.
“Now you don’t need statements anymore, you make statements every now and then and then nothing could happen in the final,” said Hughes.
“It’s just about playing round after round, taking it easy, qualifying and when the final comes, you unleash the beast.”
Gemili has refused to discuss his split with Reider – who is facing allegations of sexual misconduct which he denies – insisting he is in shape to move on from his disappointment at the last World Cups.
“You can’t hold on to those things, it was a disappointing performance from me, but you have to keep looking forward and keep that in mind to get redemption here,” he said.
“I’ll try again in the semi-finals and hopefully that’ll be enough for the final.”
National Lottery players raise more than £30m a week for good causes, including vital funds for the sport – from grassroots to elite. Find out how amazing your numbers are at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk and get involved with the hashtag: #TNLAthletes.