The Englishman Jake Wightman emerged irrepressible in the last lap of the 1,500-meter final of the Eugene World Championships to win the gold medal with a time of 3:29.23, beating the Olympic champion, the Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen (3:29.47), who had controlled the race since the 800, and the Spanish Mohamed Katir, bronze with 3:29.90.
Mario García Romo’s fourth place with 3:30.20, lowering his personal best by more than five seconds, and Ignacio Fontes’s eleventh (3:34.71) rounded off a great success for Spanish athletics in the middle-distance queen event, which He has already given six medals in World Championships (three silver and three bronze).
Last year, Ingebrigtsen’s war in the world middle ground against the African army finally won the coveted prize with the 1,500 Olympic gold medal in Tokyo after a superb one-on-one with Timothy Cheruiyot, defending champion in Eugene.
Jakob’s precocity is impressive: at the age of 21 he has already been an Olympic and European champion and has broken the indoor world record with a time of 3:30.60. He was missing the world title. He was chasing in Eugene, in fact, his first world championship medal. He will have to wait.
But his loss to Samuel Tefera at this year’s Indoor Worlds, just days before testing positive for Covid, showed that Ingebrigtsen is vulnerable to the “killers” if he hasn’t been able to inflict enough punishment on them before the sprint.
In the final on Tuesday, the Kenyans Abel Kipsang and Timothy Cheruiyot -defender of the title- set the pace in the first laps, until in the 800 (1:51.94) Ingebrigtsen took the lead prolonging a lively pace that ended up making the medals more expensive to the point that it was necessary to lose 3:30 to get on the podium.
Ingebrigtsen aspired to return the title to Europe after 39 years (the British Steve Cram was the first champion, in Helsinki 1983), but he did not count on Wightman, who had arrived in Eugene with the second best mark of the year and endured all the rhythms to reach the last lap in a position to impose their lethal sprint, while behind them the Spanish Katir and García Romo progressed on the straight to third and fourth places.
The Englishman, who competed without media pressure, unlike the big favorites, breaks the streak of consecutive victories of Kenyan athletes, who had dominated the last five editions.
Spain, which for the fifth time in 19 editions of the world championships fielded three men in the final (the last time in Osaka 2007), is the European country with the most medals in this discipline (3 beaches and 3 bronzes) and the fourth in the world.