This is the fourth piece by Stuart Weir on the Muller British Olympic Trials. Stuart speaks about the British milers, who are in top form.
Josh Kerr and Jake Wightman battled in top form at the British Trials and Stuart Weir gives us their view and thoughts of the preparation and the race.
The men’s 1500m race.
I spotted Seb Coe in the Manchester Regional Arena this afternoon. I suspect that he would have enjoyed the men’s 1500 as much as I did. It was a slow tactically race resulting as follows
1 Josh Kerr 3:40.72
2 Jake Wightman 3:40.77
3 Jake Heyward 3:42.41
4 Archie Davis 3:42.86
5 Charlie Da’Vall Grice 3:42.93
Wightman, who had failed to come in the top two in 2019, needing the discretionary place to get to Doha where he finished fifth, was determined to be in control of his own destiny this year. With Kerr and Wightman in Edinburgh AC vests, the stadium announcer described the race as the club championship!
Kerr led by half a meter on the home straight with Wightman straining every muscle in a vain effort to get past. Wightman commented: “I am very pleased with that. I obviously just wanted to qualify and it is exciting to see Josh run well as well. It wasn’t as smooth as it could have been today and it didn’t pan out as much as I wanted. I have got some work to do now we can at least make plans and I can fully focus now I have secured my place on the plane. There will be some strong performers out there but and Josh will be in there amongst them”.
Kerr attributed his win to hard work and having a good team around him. He said that he had taken the lead earlier than he had planned as he felt good with 250 to go,
Speaking earlier in the week about Josh Kerr, Wightman said: “Every time Josh races I expect him to do something. He’s a good performer when it counts. I messaged him to say how good his 3:31 was because 3:31 in those conditions was mad. It’s one thing to do it in a championship but to go out in your first 1500 race of the year and to run that time is mental but it shows how much he has moved on since 2019”.
Wightman also commented on the challenge of racing compared to the normal Diamond League format of an artificially fast race set up with pacemakers: “In a championship, you have no pacemaker so you need a brave person who will go to the front and make it quick. Without that, it’s a lot slower and more cagey with a burn-up in the last lap. One of the reasons that I did the European Team Championships is that we rarely get a chance to practice championship-type races. I didn’t go to college in the states but I see an advantage there that you do run championship-style races every other week. In the UK we don’t have that so I think there is a case for the old Men’s League to get a chance for that kind of racing. That means that trials become a more nervy occasion because we’re not used to that kind of racing, trying to see how quickly you can finish. The older you get more you get used to it. It’s one thing being a good time trialist and you need to do that to get to champs but what’s the point if you can’t get to the front of a race and win it when it really matters? Coe, Cram, and Ovett could do both and hopefully, in Britain, we’re getting to a stage now where we have the opportunity to have time trials in Diamond Leagues but we’re beginning to get it right at trials”.
His plans now are to go to Font Romeu, in the French Pyrenees, for some high altitude work followed by the Emsley Carr Mile at the Gateshead Diamond League. France, he pointed out is one of the few countries which are open to Britons because of the rapid spread of the Delta Variant of Covid in the UK.
Kerr and Wightman will be competitive in Tokyo.