It was unbearable to see the extremely pedestrian 3000 meters Steeple chase final in the ongoing World Athletics championship in Oregon. A field consisting of former Olympic and World Champion Conseslus Kipruto, Tokyo Olympic silver medalist Lamecha Girma, Rio Olympic silver medallist Evan Jager and others fell right into the trap of fast-finishing Soufiane El Bakalli.
With all due respect to El Bakalli, that race could have been much better. Then came the Men’s 1500m. There was a dreaded fear that like the steeple chase, 1500 would also turn tactical and will hand an easy win to the overwhelming favorite Jakob Ingebrigtsen. Read more: Men’s 1500m final results – Jake Wightman stuns Jakob Ingebrigtsen at World Championships 2022
Hayward Field Was Treated To Something Special
However, the spectators were in for a treat. Men’s 1500m in Oregon had a strong medal contender in the form of reigning Olympic champion Ingebrigtsen. The other podium finishers from Tokyo Timothy Cheruiyot and Josh Kerr were slated to give Ingebrigtsen a tough fight. There was a keen eye on the fastest man in the world this year Abel Kipsang and the talented Poland star Michal Rozmys.
Hardly anyone had noticed the extremely talented and well-mannered young British athlete Wightman. Wightman is not new to the global circuit and has been a consistent performer on the world stage. He had a more than decent season where he pipped the Olympic Bronze medalist Kerr in the National Championships and won the Rabat Diamond League with an impressive timing of 3.32.62.
The 28-year-old had performed decently in the qualifying rounds with a 3:35.31 in the heats and a 3:34.48 in the semi-finals. One of the other reasons for Wightman to go under the radar was that he had won neither his heat nor his semis but had got through in fourth and third positions respectively. Cometh the final, Cheruiyot, Kipsang, Mcsweyn, and others ensured that the race would be brutal and searing.
The first lap was a solid 55.51 while the pack leader Ingebrigtsen crossed 800m at 1.52.04. Another fascinating aspect about this race was that Ingebrigtsen chose to lead the race from as early as 700m. This tells us that once an honest pace was set, even the best of the lot Jakob was not interested in leaving it too late with the emergence of unpredictable sprint finishers in the modern era.
This was later proved right when Katir whose golden 2021 had far been over finished to take the bronze. Wightman’s positioning throughout the race was impeccable as he stuck to the inside lane behind the leaders for the most part of the race.
Ingebrigtsen was well positioned to win until Wightman challenged on final lap
When Ingebrigtsen took the lead past 700m Wightman who was following him closely had an opening to go after him. This is where Wightman showcased his tactical superiority by sticking behind Kipsang and others conserving his energy for the big final kick. With 500m to go Wightman was perfectly positioned behind Ingebrigtsen and Cheruiyot.
With around 220m to go Wightman came past Ingebrigtsen locking him up in the first track and making him check his stride length. This was another display of tactical awareness Wightman possessed. With 100m to go and lactic acid burning inside the athletes the positioning was almost but certain. For those of us who have seen Ingebrigtsen overtaking his competitors with his giant-powerful footsteps in the last 100m, it was a rare sight.
The pictures at the finish showcased absolute shock in Wightman’s face. The 28 years old from Nottingham had won a medal that had eluded Great Britain for 39 years. His father Geoff Wightman who was on PA announcement duties was in tears of joy while his mother was on cloud nine.
Tim Hutchings, British Commentator for world feed mentioned that this win would go a long way in rekindling the now depreciating track and field interest across the UK. One cannot forget that Laura Muir had won 1500m bronze for Britain a couple of days ago.
These wins would go a long way in the upliftment of distance running in Britain while the world of athletics was gifted with a new hero. The genius of a runner Jakob Ingebrigtsen made certain tactical miscalculations that might have cost him a gold medal.
However, undoubtedly, he would be back. With European Athletics Championship to come in a month and World Championship in Hungary next year it would be a mouthwatering prospect to see these mercurial talents go head-to-head again.
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images for World Athletics