Postponed Tokyo 2020 allows another year of training, says Team GB’s Jake Wightman

The postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games can be useful as another year for training said Jake Wightman, who came third in the 1500m for Team GB at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Wightman, who also came third at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin for the same event, said he felt like the Olympics could have been a strong moment for his running.

“I missed out on Rio four years ago so I felt like this was a big redemption year for me because I felt like every year I was getting better and this was going to be a great year with the Olympics Games.

“I felt like my running was building up going into it. So it’s obviously disappointing when you think next year, am I going to be in the same sort of shape?” 

It makes sense for the middle-distance athlete to be frustrated at the postponement of the Olympics this year, given his results at the World Athletics Championships in Qatar, last October, in the 1500m – fifth place, a personal best of 3:31.87, and 0.17 seconds off a podium finish.

“It’s gutting because you thought in 2016 that 2020 was going to be the year this happens, but no one would’ve thought 2020 would’ve been so empty as it is, in all sports. 

“It’s just another year of training, hopefully being a bit wiser with how I race because I’m a bit older.”

Jake Wightman competing in the 1500m at the IAAF World Championships in Doha last October

Now the Games have a place in the 2021 sporting calendar, Wightman believes it will be easier to focus on training because there’s a project to work towards.

“The reason I do the sport is for the racing side, although I was saying running is an enjoyable activity I never really did it because I loved going for a run.

“I loved going for a run because I knew it would make me better at racing and the competitive side. So when you know there’s nothing at the moment planned it’s hard because it’s almost like training for nothing.

“The uncertainty was the worst thing.”

Having left the UK for a training camp in Flagstaff in Arizona, managing to leave the UK the day President Donald Trump put the travel ban in place, the runner has managed to keep up the training, but hopes this period has shown other people how great the sport can be.

“[The rules] have been a lot looser, so I’ve been able to get out and run twice a day which is more than people had been at home.

“So I’m enjoying my running a lot more at the moment because you appreciate being out a little bit more.

“It’s definitely something that’s a feel-good hobby and a feel-good thing to do. there’s never ever been a run you regret. I wouldn’t say you go on a run and feel like you hadn’t gone out the door. You always come back feeling better.”

But despite being able to make use of the extra time and appreciate running for the activity it provides, as well as taken advantage of the time in other ways, he’s still looking forward to isolation ending. 

“As we’ve spent more time inside because we can’t go to coffee shops or out for food, we had to find a way of occupying time, so we started drawing.

“I’ve also spoken to friends a lot more than I would’ve without lockdown. With things like Zoom and Houseparty, you can make the effort to call and chat, do quizzes and catch up more. So it’s been a good way of bringing people together.

“I want to be able to see people I wouldn’t have been able to see during the lockdown. Go out for food with people.

“I miss going to the gym, which I haven’t been able to do for nearly two months now, and that’s a big part of my training. Hopefully, a normal lifestyle can resume soon.”

Image courtesy of Scottish Athletics via Twitter, with thanks.

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