‘It’s all been worth it’: Jake Wightman in dreamland after emulating Cram’s gold

Jake Wightman hopes to build on his stunning 1500m world championship gold medal by adding the Commonwealth title and the European 800m crown during the next five weeks.

The 28-year-old also revealed the sacrifices to his social life that he had made for the good of his career, before adding: “When I’m retired, fat and enjoying life a little bit I can look back on this and feel very proud that I did everything I could. It’s all been worth it.”

Wightman had been regarded as an outsider in Eugene but no one had an answer to his sprint finish as he became the first British man since Steve Cram in 1983 to win a world 1500m gold medal – and the first since Sebastian Coe in the 1984 Olympics to win a global title.

What made the moment even more special was that his father, Geoff, was doing the commentary in the stadium. “Jake Wightman has just had the run of his life,” he said as his son crossed the line, before saying: “My voice has gone.”

Afterwards, Wightman Sr admitted he had been thinking about the moment for a long time. “But when it came to it, it wasn’t that bad because there’s a script, and you just follow it. So it’s just another name, but I just didn’t want to mess it up for him by doing anything wobbly.”

Wightman Jr, meanwhile, said he did not hear his father’s words as he powered down the final straight. “I didn’t hear him. Hopefully that’s because he was a bit emotional. One of the first things he said was: ‘Get ready for Commies now.’”

Jake Wightman celeb rates with the union jack after running the race of his life.
Jake Wightman celeb rates with the union jack after running the race of his life. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images for World Athletics

The Commonwealth Games starts in Birmingham next week and Wightman, who has won European and Commonwealth bronze but only came 10th at the Olympics in Tokyo last year, confirmed he will be there before hopefully a tilt at the Europeans in August. “I’m 28 now,” he said. “I don’t know how many more opportunities I will get to do this and I hope there is a lot more to come. So I need to make the most of it.”

For now, though, the Nottingham-born athlete is allowing himself to celebrate – a bit. “To start with I just want the pizza in the buffet because I’ve stayed away from that. I’m very on it during the season. But this is something that I’ve had to work hard for.

“I never feel as though this sport, this job, is all fun and games. I’ve sacrificed a lot: the whole of my early 20s doing stuff with friends, the social life I’d crave, but it is all worth it for moments like this.”

Wightman said being congratulated by Cram and Lord Coe after the race made his success feel even more special. “We’ve had some like size‑14 boots to fill for a long time now,” he told the BBC. “I saw ‘Crammy’ up in the commentary bit and then it was Seb Coe presenting my medal. For them to be as pumped as they were – to be able to give the medal to me and Crammy sent me a nice message – it means a lot because they’re the benchmark of British distance running and heroes of mine, so that makes it extra special.”

Jake’s father and coach, Geoff, announced the drama as it unfolded in Oregon and his mother, Susan, was in the crowd. “I’ve been doing his school sports day since he was about 11 because my wife’s been his PE teacher,” Wightman Sr said. “So we’ve just taken it to a slightly bigger stadia, slightly bigger crowds and slightly bigger medals.

“I’ve been watching his races for all his life, since he started as a little kid in primary school and to come through and win a global title here of all places. The main thing is it made up for the Olympics. You only get one shot in four years. So I’m, very proud, very proud. He’s putting in a lot of hard work. He’s very meticulous in the way he prepares.”

Jake Wightman crosses the line ahead of the Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen.
Jake Wightman crosses the line ahead of the Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

He also underlined the need to be unbiased when announcing the runners and calling the race. “We had some good 200m semi-finals, you just get into a certain groove. But each time, I’d think: ‘He’ll be warming up now, he’ll be into the final call room.’ But then you’ve got to do the introductions and if I don’t keep it neutral during the 1500m, I don’t get to do it again. I’ve been doing 1500m since before Jake came on the scene. I’d love to do them. So I can’t be biased, I have to be impartial.”

World Athletics moved Wightman’s medal ceremony to Tuesday evening because the original one on Wednesday would have clashed with his flight home.