Before her 1500m final this evening, Laura Weightman asked her all-star Coach Steve Cram for some advice; as a man who knows exactly how to win Commonwealth Gold, his message was simple: “If you step off the track knowing you’ve given as much as you could, you’ll be really happy.”
Approximately 4 minutes after from lining up at the 300m mark, it’s safe to say she and Cram were left delighted.
Throwing her hands high into the air in ecstasy, jumping up and down, the north east athlete celebrated her Commonwealth silver medal in style, knowing that she had come of age.
Her performance was one of experience and style far beyond what you’d expect from a 23 year-old.
Lying at the back of the pack for the first two laps, Weightman, the recent British Champion, showed great confidence to force her way into the lead with 600m to go. After surging to the front to increase the pace, the northern star shone the brightest of the British contingent on their relative home turf.
Having fallen back to 3rd behind the two Kenyans with 200m left, the Morpeth Harrier showed great mental and physical strength to stride past a fading Helen Obiri in the home strait and push to the limit, in order to hang onto second place. Her sprint for the line was one full of fire and drive as the typically fast finishing Hannah England and the much talked about Laura Muir faltered towards the end.
While Weightman’s is a massive achievement, a sign of her huge progression this year under the tutelage of Cram is that her medal came as less of a surprise than many expected it to be especially as she has already ran 4 minutes flat as well being British number 1.
The real turnover to the books was the bronze medal for the almost unknown Canadian Kate Van Buskirk who really shocked the crowd after she was rewarded for a superb final 100m with 3rd place.
Credit too must go to winner Faith Kibiegon after the youngster outperformed her more favourable, talked about compatriot, world indoor champion, Obiri. Her victory could well be one of many on the world stage and it was one which in truth never looked like it was going anywhere else once she put her foot down.
For Weightman, two years on from first gaining public attention at London 2012, the 22 year old cleared a significant barrier in her quest to eventually emulate her coach’s world success.
While she may not have gained gold, silver if anything could provide her with an even greater motivator and platform to move on from with two years to go until Rio 2016.
Her first chance to go one better and go for gold will come in Zurich at the European Championships next month where she is like to face a big challenge from Dutch import Siffan Hassan as well as Muir and England.
After that, the challenge will be to see whether she can once more build on a successful cross country season in the winter in 2014 before she gears up to give the 2015 world championships her first crack having missed out in 2013 through injury.