World Champs Men’s 1500 — Wightman’s Upset

Nah, we didn’t have Jake Wightman down for gold on our fantasy team either. (KIRBY LEE/IMAGE OF SPORT)

PEERING THROUGH A crystal ball, one of two scenarios looked ripe for realization in the men’s 1500. Either favored Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen would lead the parade to his first world crown or a Kenyan would claim the title.

Milers from the East African powerhouse nation had won at the last 5 Worlds and here featured Timothy Cheruiyot, the Doha ’19 champion, Tokyo ’21 silver medalist and No. 2 on the T&FN formchart.

Scotsman Jake Wightman imagined another result and in a sense it centered on young Ingebrigtsen. “I think the main thing is for us to not see him as a god, to believe that he can be beaten,” said Wightman, 28 and the 5th-place finisher at Doha.

In the fastest-ever WC 1500 — the first 6 ran sub-3:31 — Wightman believed himself to the title, passing Ingebrigtsen with 250m left and outrunning the Norwegian to the line for a 3:29.23–3:29.47 win.

Spaniard Mohamed Katir pushed passed Cheruiyot with an inside pass at the end of the final turn and kicked to bronze in 3:29.90 ahead of countryman Mario García Romo’s PR 3:30.20.

With his final two strides, Tokyo bronze medalist Josh Kerr passed defending champion Cheruiyot on the inside for 5th, 3:30.60–3:30.69.

For the second time this year, including the World Indoor in March, the Bowerman TC’s Josh Thompson reached a global final, the only American to do so, and finished 12th (3:35.57).

Wightman’s victory gladdened the hearts of Britons everywhere, as it marked the first men’s 1500 win for a UK miler since Steve Cram prevailed at the first WC in ’83.

Cram was on hand, calling the race for television. A perhaps ethically controversial race caller was Wightman’s coach & father Geoff, who has served as PA announcer for his son’s races at global championships since London ’17.

Geoff was at the stadium mike this time, too, and when all was said and done, ecstatic dad Wightman confessed to the crowd, “That’s my son. I coach him. And he’s the world champion.”

The final was a peach of a race — or alternately haggis for the soul to Scots athletics fans. In 80-something air with the track’s homestretch side cast in shadow even as the setting sun still beat down on the stadium’s east side seats, Abel Kipsang punched up the pace early. Perhaps in an effort to set up Cheruiyot for another balls-to-the-wall title run like Doha’s, the Kenyan ran past 400 in 55.51, 3:28-low tempo.

Cheruiyot and Aussie star Stewart McSweyn, at last on the mend from long-COVID, led the chase train.

On the second pass through the homestretch, however, Ingebrigtsen strode up front to manage a race many felt was his to lose. At the same time, Wightman rolled up to 4th, his eyes on the backs of the two Kenyans and the determined 21-year-old Norwegian in the lead.

That order, with some minor internal shifting, held as Ingebrigtsen led past the bell and then 1200m in 2:48.28. His 56.24 third circuit reeled out as the “slowest” yet in a hard-charger of a race.

Now Wightman raced past Cheruiyot and then just after Ingebrigtsen glanced at the giant north-end video board, passed into the lead.

Once Wightman had a step on the Olympic champ, he never gave it back. Tearing home with closing figures of 54.84 and 26.11, visibly pressing and never folding, he showed strength down the straight and crossed one stride in front.

Once past the line, the winner threw his arms out sideways and clasped his head, a picture of giddy disbelief.

“I think it’ll take a while for that title to sink in cuz, yeah, it’s definitely not yet,” Wightman declared.

He added, “I just felt good through all the laps and I knew that if I was there with a lap to go I’d have a chance.

“And I just wanted to leave the stadium having put some sort of impact and imprint on the race. Whether that got me a medal or whether I just missed out, I wanted to do something that gave me a chance to win it. And even when I made the move, I never thought that I’d pull it off.

“I just kept expecting him to come past, someone else to come past. So to have actually done it is still like a pinching moment.”


MEN’S 1500 RESULTS

FINAL (July 19)

(temperature 86F/30C; humidity 42%)

1. Jake Wightman (GB) 3:29.23 PR (WL) (21, x W)

(55.75, 56.66 [1:52.41], 56.06 [2:48.47], 40.76)

(13.64, 27.11, 40.76, 54.84);

2. Jakob Ingebrigtsen (Nor) 3:29.47

(55.90, 56.14 [1:52.04], 56.24 [2:48.28], 41.19)

(13.78, 27.34, 41.19, 55.24);

3. Mohamed Katir (Spa) 3:29.90

(13.83, 27.37, 41.04, 55.18);

4. Mario García Romo (Spa) 3:30.20 PR

(13.70, 27.29, 55.02);

5. Josh Kerr (GB) 3:30.60

(14.25, 28.09, 56.00);

6. Timothy Cheruiyot (Ken) 3:30.69

(14.61, 28.33, 56.37);

7. Abel Kipsang (Ken) 3:31.21 (55.51)

(14.80, 28.83, 56.77);

8. Teddese Lemi (Eth) 3:32.98

(15.00, 29.50, 57.41);

9. Stewart McSweyn (Aus) 3:33.24;

10. Michał Rozmys (Pol) 3:34.58;

11. Ignacio Fontes (Spa) 3:34.71;

12. Josh Thompson (US) 3:35.57

(13.90, 27.88, 56.65).

HEATS (July 16)

I–1. Olli Hoare (Aus) 3:36.17; 2. Samuel Tefera (Eth) 3:36.35; 3. Andrew Coscoran (Ire) 3:36.36; 4. Cheruiyot 3:36.41; 5. Charles Grethen (Lux) 3:36.51; 6. Neil Gourley (GB) 3:36.54; 7. Fontes 3:36.69; 8. Rozmys 3:36.76; 9. Cameron Proceviat (Can) 3:37.43; 10. Christoph Kessler (Ger) 3:37.57; 11. Abdelatif Sadiki (Mor) 3:37.76; 12. Ryan Mphahlele (SA) 3:39.17; 13. Cooper Teare (US) 3:41.15; 14. Abraham Guem (SSD) 3:43.47.

II–1. McSweyn 3:34.91; 2. Charles Philibert-Thiboutot (Can) 3:35.02; 3. Ingebrigtsen 3:35.12; 4. Wightman 3:35.31; 5. García Romo 3:35.43 PR; 6. Johnny Gregorek (US) 3:35.65; 7. Santiago Catrofe (Uru) 3:35.86; 8. Lemi 3:36.24; 9. Kumari Taki (Ken) 3:36.47; 10. Charles Simotwo (Ken) 3:37.66; 11. Anas Essayi (Mor) 3:38.60; 12. Ismael Debjani (Bel) 3:39.96; 13. Isaac Nader (Por) 3:42.81.

III–1. Kerr 3:38.94; 2. Thompson 3:39.10; 3. Kipsang 3:39.21; 4. William Paulson (Can) 3:39.21; 5. Samuel Tanner (NZ) 3:39.33; 6. Katir 3:39.45; 7. Ruben Verheyden (Bel) 3:39.46; 8. Filip Sasínek (CzR) 3:39.47; 9. Matthew Ramsden (Aus) 3:39.83; 10. Ferdinand Kvan Edman (Nor) 3:39.92; 11. El Hassane Moujahid (Mor) 3:39.98; 12. Samuel Zeleke (Eth) 3:40.77; 13. Ronald Musagala (Uga) 3:40.87; 14. Yervand Mkrtchyan (Arm) 3:42.37.

SEMIS (July 17)

I–1. Kerr 3:36.92; 2. García Romo 3:37.01; 3. Ingebrigtsen 3:37.02; 4. Cheruiyot 3:37.04; 5. Fontes 3:37.21; 6. Gourley 3:37.22; 7. Philibert-Thiboutot 3:37.29; 8. Gregorek 3:37.35; 9. Tefera 3:37.71; 10. Hoare 3:38.36; 11. Grethen 3:40.41; 12. Coscoran 3:44.66.

II–1. Kipsang 3:33.68; 2. Katir 3:34.45; 3. Wightman 3:34.48; 4. Lemi 3:35.04; 5. McSweyn 3:35.07; 6. Rozmys 3:35.27; 7. Thompson 3:35.55; 8. Tanner 3:36.32; 9. Proceviat 3:38.83; 10. Catrofe 3:40.16; 11. Paulson 3:40.41; 12. Taki 3:50.15.

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