Wightman wins Emsley Carr Mile to fatherly accompaniment

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It was surely a first in track and field: an athlete winning a major 1500m race with his father commentating to the crowd at the same time.

But that is what happened in Birmingham on Sunday in the 64th staging of the historic Emsley Carr Mile which took place during the IAAF Diamond League meeting.

Great Britain’s Jake Wightman, 23, has broken through brilliantly on the senior scene this summer, notably making a name for himself by winning the 1500m at the Bislett Games in Oslo in a personal best of 3:34.17, which places him sixth on the European 2017 list.
The world championships did not go as planned, he was knocked out in the semis, but he how quickly he has recovered from that setback with a battling performance to hold off teammate Chris O’Hare on the line to win by 0.09 in 3:54.92 at the Alexander Stadium.

And he did so to the accompaniment of the voice of his father and Geoff, sixth in the 1990 European Athletics Championships marathon and now a well-known athletics administrator.

Somehow Geoff, who also coaches his son, managed to stay calm throughout the race although a cheer did go up when a fellow commentator later told the crowd about who was on the mic for the race.

Jake, the 2013 European U20 champion, was naturally delighted with his performance.

“I needed to redeem myself after the worlds, where going out in the semis was pretty gutting. I knew the shape I was in before the championships, I had the ability to get into that final and I just got it so wrong. I wanted to win out here,” he commented.

And, as his father told the thousands of fans in the stadium, Jake was the first British winner of this famous mile race since 2005.

One man who did get it right at the IAAF World Championships in London was Poland’s Pawel Fajdek as he made it a hat-trick of world titles a year after failing to reach the Olympic final in Rio.

And on Sunday in Birmingham, he found himself in a rare position – alongside fellow Pole Joanna Fiodorow.

They were competing in the mixed hammer throw challenge against Britain’s Sophie Hitchon and Nick Miller and Germany’s Carolin Paesler and Johannes Bichler.

Fajdek had only two legal throws, in the fourth and six rounds, but they were impressive enough, going 78.10m and 78.51m respectively, and along with Fiodorow’s best of 71.14m from the first round, it gave the pair victory with a combined distance of 149.65m from 2016 Olympic bronze medallist Hitchon (70.96m) and Miller (71.69m) with 142.65m and Paesler (65.97m) and Bichler (70.06m) with 136.03m.

“This competition was all about fun, we're near the end of the season so it's just about trying to stay focused for our last competitions,” said Fiodorow.

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Parnu in Estonia was the venue on Saturday for an international meeting which saw a series of good performances.

The hosts celebrated victory in the men’s javelin as Magnus Kirt, who was 11th in the London 2017 final, triumphed here with 85.41m as he beat Belarus’ Pavel Mialeshka, who took his personal best to 85.01m.

Ukraine’s Serhiy Nikiforov, the bronze medallist from the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade in March, won the long jump with 7.84m while Belgian’s Philip Milanov was first in the discus with 64.34m from Germany’s Martin Wierig and Estonia’s Gerd Kanter, who were second and third with 63.77m and 63.69m respectively.

It has been a great summer for Serbia’s Milica Gardasevic with her long jump gold at the European Athletics U20 Championships last month and in Budapest this weekend, she achieved another good win at the Hungarian Open Championships with 6.50m in the U20 competition.

One potential star of future European U20 Championships is Sweden’s Henrik Larsson and the 17-year-old showed his talent with a sprint double in front of his home crowd at the Nordic U20 Championships in Umea.

On Saturday, Larsson won the 100m in slightly wind-assisted 10.32 (+2.4) and then on Sunday took the 200m in 20.94 while Norway´s 2017 European U20 champion Marcus Thomsen reached a fine 20.67m in the shot put with the 6kg implement.

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