'I hope he can celebrate as much as I can': Jake Wightman tells ITV News about the moment his dad watched on for his biggest win yet
Great Britain’s newest athletics hero hailed the “special moment” his dad and coach commentated as he shocked the world with a stunning gold medal win.
Jake Wightman, 28, from Nottingham, clinched a stunning 1500m gold medal at the World Championships late on Tuesday in Oregon, in the United States, becoming the first Briton to win in the race in 39 years.
To cap it all off, his dad Geoff was watching on as the stadium announcer at Hayward Field, where Wightman won ahead of Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Spain’s Mohamed Katir.
“He’s my coach and father but he’s also the stadium announcer... I couldn’t hear him, I’ve not heard him for years just because I’m sick of his voice by now,” he joked to ITV News.
“But I think it was a pretty special moment to have him being able to play such a big part in my victory today.
“I don’t think he stayed that choked up or anything, he was very professional with it but I hope he can celebrate as much as I can.”
Wightman, who added his dad took him to watch the World Championships in 2003 in France for his first athletics experience when he was nine, said he spoke to his dad briefly after his victory.
“One of the first things he said was ‘get ready for Commies (Commonwealth Games) now’,” he said in an earlier interview.
“I’m 28 now, I don’t know how many more opportunities I will get to do this and I hope there is a lot more to come.
“I need to make the most of it. It’s important to hit the milestone like this, seven, eight-year-old me would never have believed.”
How the proud parents watched on
Dad Geoff announced the drama as it unfolded in Oregon with mum Susan in the crowd.
“I’ve been doing his school sports day since he was about 11 because my wife’s been his PE teacher,” said Wightman senior. “So we’ve just taken it to a slightly bigger stadia, slightly bigger crowds and slightly bigger medals.
“I’ve been watching his races for all his life, since he started as a little kid in primary school and to come through and win a global title here of all places. The main thing is it made up for the Olympics.
“You only get one shot in four years. So I’m, very proud, very proud. He’s putting in a lot of hard work. He’s very meticulous in the way he prepares.”
He also underlined the need to be unbiased when announcing the runners and calling the race.
“We had some good 200m semi-finals, you just get into a certain groove. But each time, I’d think ‘he’ll be warming up now, he’ll be into the final callroom.’
“But then you’ve got to do the introductions and if I don’t keep it neutral during the 1500m, I don’t get to do it again.
“I’ve been doing 1500m since before Jake came on the scene. I’d love to do them. So I can’t be biased, I have to be impartial.”
Wightman, who had gone into the championships ranked second in the world, went for the win with 200m to go.
How did Wightman win?
Ingebrigtsen was unable to react and Wightman held on to take the biggest win of his career.
World Athletics then moved the medal ceremony forward to Tuesday evening because the original one clashed with his flight home on Wednesday.
“I didn’t want to leave this race like in Tokyo (2020 Olympics) where I didn’t give a true account of how I want to run and how I believe I could run,” he said.
“The important thing was to be at 200m strong. I thought ‘screw this, I’m going to give it a go’. If I ended up finishing fourth, I gave it a go. If I had finished second or third I’d given it a go to try and win. But I held on.
“Whatever happens in the rest of my career, I’m a world champion.”
Wightman has previously won European and Commonwealth bronze and came 10th at last year’s Olympics in Tokyo.