This piece on British success at 1,500m should be read by American coaches as well. It is a good lesson on the win by Jake Wightman, but how it came about.
British middle distance running
Jake Wightman’s win in the World Championship 1500m was just the culmination of a period of excellence for GB at the event. Go back to 2016, and Charlie Grice was the only British runner in the Olympic final and in the 2017 London World Championships, there was only Chris O’Hare, and both finished 12th.
By Doha 2019, Britain had three runners in the 1500m final, with Jake Wightman running a PR (3:32.87) for fifth place with Josh Kerr sixth (3:32.52, also a PR). Neil Gourley was 11th.
Then in Tokyo last year, Josh Kerr took the bronze medal (3:29.05 again a PR), with Jake Heyward ninth and Jake Wightman tenth. While Wightman saw 10th as a disaster, it was another case of all three Brits in the final.
The GB National Championships this year was an epic battle with the following outcome:
1 Jake Wightman
2 Neil Gourley
3 Josh Kerr
4 Jake Heyward
with Heyward, an Olympic finalist the previous year, missing out on World Championship selection.
Wightman and Kerr made the final in Oregon with Gourley – having had Covid the previous week – missing out by 1/100th of a second.
Geoff Wightman – coach and dad – made the obvious but important comment after the Oregon race that the more people you have in the finals, the more chance you have of a medal.
Kerr, with his Olympic medal, might have seemed top Brit, but Wightman, 28, had registered 3 Diamond League wins in Rabat (2022), Birmingham, and Oslo (2017). In contrast, Kerr runs fewer races and very rarely a Diamond League. Wightman works hard on the craft of racing.
For Jake Wightman to beat Timothy Cheruiyot and Jakob Ingebrigtsen was a surprise, but it was not a shock. It was the culmination of a growing strength in British middle-distance running, which is reminiscent of the Coe, Cram, Ovett era. And I haven’t even mentioned Laura Muir, Jemma Reekie, or Keely Hodgkinson.