Tokyo Olympics: Jake Wightman not banking on GB place despite top times

By Tyrone SmithBBC Scotland Sport
Jake Wightman: 'A long way from matching' Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram

Jake Wightman thinks he faces a battle to make the British team for the Tokyo Olympics never mind be talked about alongside legends of middle distance.

The 26-year-old Scot this week ran the fastest 800m by a British man since 2012 and last month became the second fastest ever over 1500m.

It has led to comparisons with Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram.

"My event at the moment is so tough, it is hard to make the team for one distance, never mind two," he said.

"I missed out on going to Rio in 2016, so for me just to make that team for Tokyo is going to be a pretty big relief. Even in Scotland you have got Neil Gourley, Josh Kerr, Chris O'Hare, so there are a lot of us who could potentially get on that plane to Tokyo."

Wightman realises that it is titles and medals rather than times he needs to rank alongside those past greats.

"For me going past them on the all-time list is a pretty special thing to do, just because I think it means something to a lot of people because those names are still so well remembered within British sport," he told BBC Scotland.

"But they have obviously done the most in the sport and we are still a long way from matching anything that they have done."

Wightman believes he is at an age where he can continue to make what he describes as "gradual improvements" each year but points out that the depth of talent is "the way middle-distance running always was in this country" and makes it more difficult for him to compete at both distances.

"You are going to end up specialising in one at some point and, for me, 1500 probably has to be a little bit better - therefore I choose that," he said. "Hopefully, going forward, if the opportunity comes, I can do both."

Scottish Athletics chief executive Mark Munro has spoken of the "huge mindset shift" that Scottish runners like Wightman, Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie who have enjoyed a sparkling summer now "expect" to be challenging for medals.

Wightman believes they can handle the pressure of expectation and adds: "I think a lot of people are going to have some very good years over the next few years and hopefully become household names."

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