JAKE WIGHTMAN begins his quest to complete an historic golden double today, a mere two weeks after becoming world champion.
Wightman has barely had time to catch his breath since winning gold in Eugene a fortnight ago but today, he lines up in the 1500m heats at Birmingham 2022 in what he hopes will be that start of a journey that ends with a second gold medal.
Wightman is under no illusions about the size of the task in front of him over the next few days however, with his fellow Scots likely to provide some of his stiffest competition.
Also lining up in today’s 1500m heats are Josh Kerr and Neil Gourley, both of whom have the potential to make the podium come the final on Saturday afternoon.
Add in Wightman’s GB teammates, Jake Heyward from Wales and Englishman Charlie Grice, and there is no shortage of men vying to topple the newly-crowned world champion.
However, from Wightman’s perspective anyway, there is no animosity despite the intense competitive rivalry on the track and instead, only a health amount of respect, which is just the way Wightman likes it.
“They’re my mates and for me there’s no reason why you have to dislike each other off the track because you can be competitive on it without it being fuelled by hate,” the 28-year-old said.
“They’re good guys. Why would I not like them? Josh I’ve known since I was kid, Neil the same. For me there’s no reason why you can’t separate the two.
“I know there are athletes who have to dislike each other off the track to feel like they can beat them on the track.
“But we’re competitive enough that we know I don’t want to lose to them but I won’t be horrible to them off the back of it.”
Wightman insists there are no ill-effect of his world title win last month and instead he will, he believes, be able to use the lessons he learnt following his tenth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics last summer and implemented in Eugene which will, he hopes, aid his chances of claiming another gold medal.
“From Tokyo, the main thing I realised I needed was the strength to come through two hard rounds then run a PB,” he says.
“I thought I was prepared for that but in reality I wasn’t.
“Another big lesson as to save as much energy for that final because you’ll need every ounce of it.
“I was pretty pleased how I did that in Eugene. I navigated the rounds without being really seen which is what I hoped to do.
“Whereas in Tokyo, I had a pretty good semi-final which ended up not being helpful for my final.”
Wightman, who won Commonwealth bronze in 2018, has long showed the potential to be a medallist on the global stage but it is this year he has really moved onto another level.
He’s in the form of his career but, he admits, he’s already looking forward to the day when he does not have to live the life of a professional athlete.
“I’m very fortunate to do this but I’ve never felt as though this is the perfect lifestyle for me because I feel I sacrifice a lot,” he says.
“I miss out on a lot but it’s all worth it when you get moments like winning a world title.
“I’ll be a long time retired and that’s what keeps me going – knowing I’ll be able to live my fat self in the years when I’m finished.”
For now, though, Wightman’s sole focus is Commonwealth gold.