The men’s 1,500m is always a crowd-pleaser. The crowd of 25,000 at the Rabat Diamond League showed their appreciation to the two Brits, Jake Wightman, and Jake Heyward, and Moroccan Abdelatif Sadiki battled to the finish.
This was a satisfying 1,500m, as while the early pace was set, almost perfectly, it did not disturb the proper racing. Athletes need to race, to prepare for major championships, and many have the Worlds, Commonwealths, and Europeans this summer.
This was an important race for Brit Jake Wightman, and for Jake Heyward.
Jake Wightman, taking the accolades in Rabat, June 5, 2022, photo by Diamond League AG
The pacemaker, Alberto Guerrero, took the field through the 400 meters, in 55.67. Guerrero lead through the 800m in 1:53.40.
The first lap in 55.67, was followed by a lap in 57.73. Behind Guerrero, Jake Heyward, Charles Grethen, Spain’s Mohammed Katir who was trying to challenge for the race.
Katir fell back, unable to challenge.
Jake Heyward made a gallant move in the third 400m, running that lap in 58.17, and hitting the 1,200m in 2:51.57. Poised on Hayward and Abdelatif Sadiki, was one Jake Wightman.
Jake had had a less than spectacular 800m at the Birmingham meet, in 4th in 1:46.39. An article in British media noted that Jake’s season was falling apart. Not sure it was that bad, but it was obvious that Jake wanted to perform at a much higher level.
In past conversations, Jake, who is coached by his father, Geoff Wightman, likes to race a lot. He believes that racing on a frequent basis gives him the challenges and obstacles that he needs to make himself a better racer. Wightman gets it. The sport is not about time trialing, it is about racing. The World Champs does not always go to the person who has the fastest times, but the person who can race most effectively on the day, in the race that is presented.
How does one answer those challenges?
When one observes Jake Wightman, one sees that, when fit, he likes to make a move from way out, say 300 to 350 meters. As Jake began to move on the final lap in Rabat, this writer wondered out loud if he was breaking the field.
The 55.45 that Jake Wightman put together in the last 400 meters, gave him some real estate between his first and Jake Heyward’s second place.
Wightman took the win in 3:32.62, a European leader for 2022, and a time that got the approval of Steve Cram, who noted, on TV that this was exactly the kind of race that Jake needed prior to the British Trials and the World Championships in six weeks.
An obviously happy Wightman spoke in the mixed zone post-race, and this is how he spoke about his victory:
“I am super happy for this win. This is my first time here both the crowd and the weather are amazing. I really enjoyed it. My goal now is to achieve one of the top 3 national places to qualify for the World Championship in Oregon.”
Jake Wightman takes selfies with the exuberant Moroccan fans, Rabat DL, June 5, 2022, photo by Diamond League AG