Britain’s Jack Wightman stunned the Olympic champion and the reigning world champion himself. World Athletics Championships Oregon22 He ran the race of his life to win the 1500m on Tuesday (19).
Storming up to a world-leading PB of 3:29.23, 28-year-old European and Commonwealth bronze medalist Jacob Ingbrichtsen left without reply as he set eyes firmly ahead on the home straight. Approaching the finish line, the Briton first raised his arms wide and then threw his hands to his head in disbelief, followed by Olympic champion Ingbrixen of Norway who came home in 3:29.47 and Mohammed Kadir of Spain who took bronze in 3:29.90.
“That’s my son,” came the voice over the loudspeaker, as the race was called by in-stadium announcer Jeff Whiteman — the winner’s father and trainer, “he’s a world champion.”
A disappointed Jake Weidman went back to work after finishing 10th at the Olympic Games in Tokyo. He focused on building his strength over the winter, returning to some cross-country races and doing more distance work while refocusing in Oregon.
Aiming to stay under the radar through the rounds, Ingbrixen took his place on the Hayward Field starting line-up on the left and Kadir on the right. Kenya’s Abel Kipsong, who went into the race with the fastest time of the season, took the front straight and led Ingbrigtsen and defending champion Timothy Seruiyot of Kenya, with Wightman sitting just behind them. Ingebrigtsen, who broke the world indoor 1500m record with 3:30.60 in February, went two laps in front, Kipsong and Cheruiyot on his shoulder and Whiteman tracking their every move.
At the bell it was Seriot and Ingbrichtson from Wightman, Kibsong ran wide on the shoulder. Judging the race to perfection, the Briton passed Seriot first and took the lead ahead of Inkbrickson with more than 200 meters to go.
As he left the crease, Ingebrigsen’s expected kick never came. Looking over his shoulder, the Norwegian looked like he knew he was beaten and returned to the silver medal, followed by Kadir and his Spanish teammate Mario Garcia, who ran a BP of 3:30.20 for fourth place.
Wightman’s British compatriot Josh Kerr – an Olympic 1500m bronze medalist – finished fifth in 3:30.60, just ahead of Seruot (3:30.69) and Kipsang (3:31.21).
“It probably won’t sink in until I retire,” said Wightman, who ran an 800m PB of 1:44.18 and an indoor 3000m PB of 7:37.81 in February. “It’s crazy. Last year was a disappointing year for me in Tokyo. I don’t think people realize how crushing it was to go in with such high expectations and expect a medal and finish 10th.
His parents — both former elite marathon runners — were on hand to watch him win at Hayward Field, his father Mike on commentary and his mother Susan in the stands.
“Dad can be a robot on the mic sometimes,” laughed Wightman Jr., whose time in Oregon was the third-fastest in world championship history. “Some say robotic, some say professional. I hope he breaks it today. My mother was in tears, so someone was crying.
He added about the race: “The strength for me is that if I can get there in the 200m, I always make a move because I feel good about how I run. As soon as I got the chance to pass, I wanted to lead the curve. The only concession to getting an 800m PB in races like that is if you still have 200m to go, which I haven’t been able to in previous years.
“Even when I came straight home, I felt strong, but Jacob is a beast and I didn’t know if he was going to pull through.”
But he didn’t. Whiteman’s last lap was 54.84, and Inkbrickson’s last lap was 55.24. In Tokyo, the Norwegian clocked 54.42 seconds for the final 400m.
“I feel good, but I couldn’t keep up with Jake in the last 200m,” said Ingbrichtsen. “I own it. I’m very disappointed not to win, but I’m very happy for him. He’s a great runner.
He will now focus on the heats 5000m on Thursday.
The 24-year-old finished eighth in the 5000m, where Kadir competed at the Olympics last year, but after setting national records in the 1500m, 3000m, 5000m and 10km last year, her decision to race in the shorter event in Oregon paid off. Bronze with his second highest speed.
Behind him was European U23 silver medalist and NCAA runner-up Garcia, running for the University of Mississippi, setting the record for the fastest time ever by a collegiate athlete.
Ceruiot has been far from his best this season and despite making his presence felt in the early stages, he lacked strength in the end and faded from medal contention.
Ethiopia’s Samuel Tefera won the world indoor title ahead of Engbrichtsen and Kipsong in Belgrade in March, but finished ninth in his semi-final in Oregon and missed out on the final.
Jess Whittington for World Athletics
|Men’s 1500m medalists|
|🥇||Jack Whiteman 🇬🇧 GBR||3:29.23 WL|
|🥈||Jakob Ingebrigtsen 🇳🇴 NOR||3:29.47 SB|
|🥉||Mohammad Kadir 🇪🇸 ESP||3:29.90 SB|