Track legend Steve Cram lauds ‘risk taker’ Jake Wightman after he became first Brit to romp to 1500m gold at World Athletics Championships in 29 YEARS
- Steve Cram was full of superlatives for Wightman after his gold medal in Oregon
- Cram admitted feeling emotional as he commentated Wightman’s 1500m win
- Former star praises Wightman for his risk taking strategy that paid off in the final
For Steve Cram it was harder than ever to stay composed on commentary as Jake Wightman sprinted to gold at the World Championships in Oregon on Tuesday night.
Cram was the last British athlete to win a world title at 1500m, striking gold in Helsinki in 1983, but a 29-year-wait came to an end as Wightman held off Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen in a thrilling final.
‘You’re always that bit more emotionally taxed,’ said Cram of his race call on the BBC. ‘It’s my event, it’s a Brit winning, and that gave me a thrill. When you’re calling someone home to win a gold medal when it wasn’t expected, it’s much more rewarding.’
Steve Cram was the last Brit to win a 1500m gold at the World Athletics Championships in 1983
Cram was full of praise for Wightman who pulled off a do-or-die move to get ahead of the pack
Track legend Cram admitted the race in Oregon was one of the best tactical races he has seen
Cram had to interview Wightman on Wednesday in Eugene and he planned to apologise to the new world champion for ‘almost handing him the gold medal 40 or 50 metres out’.
The two know each other well. Cram’s son competed with Wightman at schools’ level and he remembers the slow, steady progress that defined Wightman’s rise.
‘It’s been this gradual progression. He’s a great story for those who aren’t breaking age-group records. Josh Kerr, by contrast, has broken every single U13, U15, U17 record. Jake hasn’t. But it’s given him the chance to keep doing what he does – getting better and better and better.’
In the 1983 world final, Cram tracked chief rival Said Aouita and sprinted to the front entering the final turn – the same tactics Wightman employed.
Wightman emulated Cram with his gold medal win at the World Athletics Championships
‘It’s very easy just to sit and wait and let things happen, to hang on and hang on, then get to the straight and think, ‘right, have I got a chance now?’ The hard thing is to commit.
Jake sensed with 300 to go he had the opportunity: he moved on the shoulder of Ingebrigtsen and he would have expected him to really respond, and the response wasn’t a surge.
‘That made Jake think, ‘hang on a minute, there isn’t much there.’ He made a move to win the race and he might have run out of legs in the home straight, but you’ve got to back yourself, you’ve got to take the risk. That’s what won him the gold medal.’
Cram paid tribute to Wightman – ‘one of the best racers I’ve ever watched in terms of tactics’ – for the bravery of that race-winning move. ‘He thought, ‘if I don’t go now, it might be too late.’ You have to throw your dice, and he did it brilliantly.’
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