Observing the development and emergence of Jake Wightman has been a blast. Watching him take the World Champs title was another. Stuart Weir was an eyewitness to Stuart Weir in Eugene, Birmingham, and Munich last summer. Here are nine questions that Stuart Weir asked Jake Wightman.
Nine questions to Jake Wightman, by Stuart Weir
Thanks to Jake for his time chatting with me. In the final article, I ask nine questions on a range of subjects.
RunBlogRun, #1: Josh in Tokyo, Laura, Eilish, and you. Why is Scotland suddenly winning so many medals?
Jake Wightman: It’s nice that Scottish athletes are having so much success. I hope Scottish Athletics gets enough credit and attention for how well we’re doing at the moment because if you look at the size of the country compared to how well we do at champs, it is ridiculous. We punch well above our weight, which is no coincidence. It’s down to the structure we’ve grown up in and the people in the sport in Scotland who have been able to nurture us to get to this point.
RunBlogRun, #2: Do you feel any different now that you are a world champion?
Jake Wightman: It did for a little bit, but then you back to winter training, and you’re humbled pretty quickly and you’re back to the same situation you were in. The autumn is nice with award sessions where you are reminded of what you are able to do last year – while not feeling anything like as fit as that. But there’s no shortcut. Just because you’ve gone out and won worlds is no guarantee you’ll be able to repeat it without going through the same process. You can’t carry it forward and be able to ride off what you’ve done the previous year. You just have to go back to winter training and get stuck in again, get fit enough and try to do it again next year, if not better.
EUGENE, OREGON – JULY 19: Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Team Norway and Jake Wightman of Team Great Britain cross the finish line in the Men’s 1500m Final on day five of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 19, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images for World Athletics)
RunBlogRun, #3: Was it hard getting back into winter training?
Jake Wightman: That is the toughest thing, coming off a year that I was so pleased with, having to go back into winter and knowing you are back with a level playing field again. Everyone is going through the same thing, and you have not had any advantage. It is the same every year, but it was tougher to get started again this year. Last year I was very motivated to try to make amends for the previous Olympic season that hadn’t gone as well as I wanted but this year. When it does go as well as you hoped, it’s a very different situation. Finding the motivation to get stuck into the harder sessions and higher mileage is hard. I’ve had a bit of a turbulent build-up, which I would expect after our long season. Getting back into winter training is always something that comes about. I was in Flagstaff before Christmas, training well and on track with where I need to be to start my build-up towards the summer and hopefully defend the world title.
Jake Wightman, Neil Gourley,
Commonwealth Games 2022
Copyright Bobby Gavin
for Commonwealth Games,
RunBlogRun, #4: The legendary Manchester United head coach, Alex Ferguson, use to refuse to talk about defending a title, saying everyone started equal.
Jake Wightman: I would agree with that. There’s no guarantee that I will be the one who’s running best going into the 2023 world, as I wasn’t this year. There will be so many more people who are hungry. Sometimes people ask me if I will feel more pressure [as champion], but I don’t think we have that in athletics because it’s all about how you’re running at the time. So the pressure is on the person who’s run the best going into the champs, and I hope I can be one of those. You never know, for it’s a very quick-moving sport. If you don’t come out, replicate, and even improve on what you did last year, you get forgotten about quickly. I was treated so well at the end of the season, going to Diamond Leagues and so on – getting nicer rooms and so on, but that will probably disappear if I don’t defend my world title or go out and win it again because it moves on so quickly and you find that someone else has taken your place.
The room of Stuart Weir (well, at least it is clean), University of Oregon, July 15-24, 2022, photo by Stuart Weir
RunBlogRun, #5: Talking of nice rooms, if yours was at all like mine, you didn’t have a nice one in Oregon!
Jake Wightman: To be fair, I don’t think you really want a nice room at champs because you are there to do a job. And I didn’t mind it being basic and humble because it makes you look forward to finishing and going, and the only way you’ll be content with that is by doing well. So I kind of like it if it’s a bit rougher.
Jake Wightman is the king of his domain. Jake, shown here, winning the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile, photo by Kevin Morris.
RunBlogRun, #6: Did you enjoy the New York Fifth Avenue Mile?
Jake Wightman: That was fun. After Commies, I really enjoyed the back end of my season, every race. I had done the Diamond League 800 final in Zurich three days earlier and come third [1:44.10], and I was a bit tired in Zurich. I’d managed to run OK, but I didn’t think my legs were quite the same. So going into New York, I hadn’t run 1500 for what must have been over a month, and there were people who had raced the Diamond League 1500 final and others who hadn’t raced for a bit. The only thing I had was that I won it before, so I knew how to run it. And I was still fit because I’ve been running 800s and I know the course, so I thought I had a good chance to win it. There was probably pressure on me because of what I’ve done during the year, and that was all the build-up. So there was a little pressure, and I just thought if I can take that on board and see how it feels and still go out and run well, that might indicate what next season might feel like. So I was pleased I was able to go out and have a pretty smooth run and win it. There is no better way to end your season than with a group of athletes who are in the same position in New York.
The 2022 WC 1,500m medalists, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, silver, Jake Wightman, gold, Mohammed Ketir, bronze, photo by World Athletics
RunBlogRun, #7: Another Scottish double with Laura Muir also winning?
Jake Wightman: I saw some fans with the Scottish attire, so I took the flag from them and had a photograph taken as otherwise, the meet just bring you the GB union flag. I think they should have a Scottish flag ready because it’s been two years since Scotland won!
Laura Muir and Jake Wightman, the winners of the NYRR Fifth Avenue Mile, photo by Kevin Morris
RunBlogRun, #8: Is a double-up at a championship realistic?
Jake Wightman: I wish they made the timetable more realistic. I feel that on the men’s side, it’s always the 1500, 5K that they give the opportunity to. So the timetable will always lend itself to that. But it used to be that many people did the 800 and 1500. Just think back to Coe, Cram, and Ovett, etc. And that has really gone now, and no one is expected to double up now. I think in Budapest, it’s the 800 heats the night before the 1500 final. So for me, that would be a good chance. The dream would have been I could have won the 800 Diamond League final in Zurich, so I would’ve had a wild card for the 800 and 1500 [at worlds], and I could have chosen to go to both if I wanted. Next year I think I will run the 800 at trials, and if I win that and run well and think that I can go to worlds and be competitive, I would potentially take the risk of doing that. If I don’t make the team, then that would be decided for me, but if I am second or third, I can still have the option to go, but I think I would say ‘no’ because I would feel that I’m not running well enough to be worth the risk to make me more tired for the 1500 final.
Jake Wightman takes the Memorial Van Damme Men’s 800m in style and a PB of 1:43.65, breaking the Scottish record of Tom McKean, photo by Diamond League AG.
RunBlogRun, #9: Would six races in a short time be possible?
Jake Wightman: If the 800 heat was in the morning and 1500 [the next day] in the evening, I would definitely be up for that. One thing I really want to do is defend the 1500 title. So I don’t think, unless it was definitely looking, that I was in good enough shape to run well over both, I’m not sure that I would take the risk. It to shame because I would love to be able to do it.
Jake Wightman, World Champion, 1,500 meters, photo by Munich 2022