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Track legend Steve Cram praises ‘risk taker’ Jake Wightman after his 1500m gold medal at the World Championships

Track legend Steve Cram praises ‘risk-taker’ Jake Wightman after he became the first Briton to win 1500m gold at the World Championships in Athletics in 29 YEARS

  • Steve Cram was full of superlatives for Wightman after his gold medal in Oregon
  • Cram admitted feeling emotional commenting on Wightman’s 1500m win
  • Former star praises Wightman for his risk-taking strategy which paid off in the final

For Steve Cram, it was harder than ever to stay calm on the 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 in the 1500m, taking gold in Helsinki in 1983, but a 29-year wait ended when Wightman held off Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen in a thrilling final.

“You’re always a little more emotionally taxed,” Cram said of his BBC race call. “It’s my event, it’s a Briton winning, and it gave me chills. When you call someone home to win a gold medal when it wasn’t expected, it’s is much more rewarding.

Steve Cram was the last Briton to win a gold medal in the 1500m at the World Championships in Athletics in 1983.

Cram was full of praise for Wightman who pulled off a do-or-die move to get ahead of the pack

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's seen

Track legend Cram admitted the race in Oregon was one of the best tactical races he’s seen

Cram was due to interview Wightman on Wednesday in Eugene and he planned to apologize to the new world champion for “almost giving him the gold medal at 40 or 50 yards.”

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 has been this gradual progression. It’s a great story for those who don’t break records by age group. Josh Kerr, on the other hand, broke all U13, U15, U17 records. Jake didn’t. But it gave him the chance to keep doing what he does – getting better and better and better.

In the 1983 World Finals, Cram followed main rival Said Aouita and sprinted forward into the final corner – the same tactic employed by Wightman.

Wightman imitated Cram with his gold medal at the World Championships in Athletics

Wightman imitated Cram with his gold medal at the World Championships in Athletics

“It’s very easy to sit back and wait and let things happen, and hang on and hang on, and then go into the straight line and think, ‘Isn’t it no, do I have a chance now?’ The hardest thing is to commit.

Jake felt with 300 to go that he had the opportunity: he moved onto Ingebrigtsen’s shoulder and he would have expected him to actually respond, and the response wasn’t a push.

“That made Jake think, ‘wait a minute, there’s not much there.’ He made a move to win the race and he may have run out of legs on the straight, but you have to support yourself, you have to take the risk and that’s what got him the gold medal.

Cram credited Wightman – “one of the best runners I’ve ever seen in terms of tactics” – for the bravery of that winning decision. ‘He thought, ‘If I don’t leave now, it might be too late.’ You have to roll the dice, and he did it brilliantly.