[Skip to content]

Search our Site
  • Instagram Icon
  • RSS Icon
  • Twitter Icon
  • Facebook Icon
  • YouTube Icon
UK Athletics

jake's on the wight track to glasgow 2014

Share this

Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Tell friends via WhatsApp Email us
Jake Wightman Rieti

6 March 2014

Better known for his track prowess, Jake Wightman added the Scottish junior cross country title to his growing list of accolades last month, the perfect start to a year that sees the Commonwealth Games take place just over 30 miles from his home in Scotland.

Coached by his British Athletics commentating father Geoff, Jake shot into the limelight when he clinched the European Junior Championship 1500m title in Rieti last summer, outrunning the best Europe has to offer.

However, Wightman admitted he wasn’t as confident as he wanted to be heading into those championships.

“I wasn’t sure because at the Sainsbury’s British Championships a week earlier I had a bit of a shocker in the heats, so my mind was all over the place. But I knew once I’d got through the heats in Rieti I was in around the shape that I wanted to be in, so it was a bit of a confidence boost.”

So with any self-doubt removed, Wightman was able to execute his pre-race plan to perfection.

“The aim was probably a medal of some form. The race got taken out a little quicker than I expected by Matt McLaughlin. I’d always planned on going for it from between about 300m and 500m out and I think I responded with about 400m to go. Then the Turkish guy came up on shoulder with 200m to go and I just tried to stay calm. Luckily I had something left in the tank.”

Of the emotions he felt at what many would deem an unexpected victory, Wightman added:

“When I crossed the line it was a bit surreal to be honest – I didn’t think it had really happened. But to be honest my head, stomach and legs were just full of lactic - I was all over the place!”

Fast forward to 2014 and the Edinburgh AC man has been acquitting himself on more unfamiliar territory, namely on the mud at Callendar Park. Wightman improved four places on his 2013 performance to take the Scottish National Cross Country title and puts this improvement down to a hard winter’s training.

“There’s been some heavy mileage this winter- more than I’ve ever put in in previous years.  I’ve done a lot more hill sessions too which I think I’ve benefited from, so it’s been relatively ok so far; I’m just about where I need to be.”

Asked if he prefers track to cross country, the 19 year old laughed: “Yes, the hills are what scare me. Just the pain of standing on the start line when you know what you’re going to be facing is something I don’t enjoy!”

But with a home Commonwealth Games on the horizon the 3.43 1500m man knows how important cross country is in his build up, with his sights firmly set on making his senior international debut at Hampden Park in July.

“The start of the season is going to be geared around chasing standards. I’ll probably start by focussing on getting the 800m time and then move on to the 1500m if I meet that. It’s not an opportunity I’d like to miss at all – I might never get it again.”

Despite his burning ambition to reach his home Games, the Loughborough University student has hit feet firmly on the ground, talking with maturity beyond his years.

“So far, gold in Rieti is the highlight of my athletics career, but that’s only a junior title. In the long term that means nothing - it’s all about translating it to seniors. I’d preferably like to run in the 800m in Hampden but we’ll have to see how it goes and what sort of shape I’m in. It also depends who else has got the standards by June.”

As part of the British Athletics Futures programme headed by Jo Jennings, Wightman receives an amount of financial assistance and support, with the view he may eventually progress to the World Class Performance Plan; and he is quick to praise the scheme:

“It’s been great to be honest - I’ve never had any sort of funding before this. To go from nothing to the sort of support that Futures has given me is really amazing.  The Futures weekend we recently went to had talks on doping and diet, things that that you don’t normally hear elsewhere. It’s obviously a strict code and a very important part of the athlete lifestyle.”

“One thing I’ve taken away from the Futures programme is that you’re never really left alone in the sport. There’s always someone there that’ll help you out if you need it.

For further information on the Futures Programme, please contact British Athletics' Development Manager Jo Jennings - jjennings@britishathletics.org.uk