Jake Wightman ignored those who advised him to scrap his appointment with the fate of the domestic Commonwealth Games and with a round to go he probably regretted it.
Two weeks after being crowned world champion, the Scot decided to risk his credentials again and run with a target on his back at the Alexander Stadium.
The gamble didn’t bring gold, but bold bronze in a mile wonder that saw eight of the 12 participants set personal bests and Australia’s Ollie Hoare took gold in a game record time of 3:30.12.
“I didn’t want to do the 1500m because I just couldn’t do it anymore,” Wightman said. “From then on I was ready to do it and I wanted to win it.
“I would hate to have run the 800m or not run at all and to see this race and think I would have liked to have been there to win it, so I put it on the line.
“In that race I put myself in a position where I could have won it or ended up getting nothing. I could easily have gotten away with nothing.
“I hope I don’t get shot down too much for not winning it as a world champion, but I don’t think people really realize how high that was and that they had to reset.”
Kenya’s Abel Kipsang tackled the field with a brutal pace of 54.87 in the first 400m, almost a second quicker than the Eugene final on the first lap.
He was joined at the helm by 2019 World Champion Timothy Cheruiyot while Wightman and Hoare fought for their lives.
Welshman Jake Heyward, a meter behind Wightman at the bell, said: “I was a bit surprised Jake stopped me at the bell. I thought he would be more patient.”
Wightman found his sweet spot on the backstretch but kicked earlier than Worlds and was then caught by Cheruiyot and Hoare with 30m to go.
He said: “It was just a little bit instinctive. I wanted to get back into the corner and lead again, but I knew I wasn’t quite as fresh this time, didn’t have the same pop as before.
“I persevered down the stretch this time instead of feeling strong and that I wasn’t going to be beaten. I felt pretty vulnerable then. But I wouldn’t have changed it and I gave myself a chance.”
All this pressure is so new to Wightman, who actually matched his achievement from Gold Coast 2018 where he also won bronze in the 1500m.
In the short time since his return from the Worlds, he has already consulted with some of those who have felt the shine of the spotlight, most notably 2007 and 2013 World Champion Christine Ohuruogu.
He said: “Christine and I used the same sports psychologist but there aren’t too many people who have been in that situation.
“It’s a great position where people look at you because you’ve done something good, but you definitely feel the pressure and that’s why it was a lot more stressful for me.
“I didn’t feel like I could relax that much. You are more the hunted than the hunter and people are afraid of you.”
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