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Jake Wightman's dad is a diamond geezer

He's always there, laughs Jake Wightman of his coach, "even at breakfast most mornings." Always has been, ever since his birth exactly 20 years ago tomorrow.

Jake Wightman crosses the line to win the 1500 metres in the European Junior Championship in Rieta, Italy, last year. The Scot will be taking a step up in class at Hampden Park this weekend. Picture: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images
Jake Wightman crosses the line to win the 1500 metres in the European Junior Championship in Rieta, Italy, last year. The Scot will be taking a step up in class at Hampden Park this weekend. Picture: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Back then, his father Geoff was a pretty tidy runner himself, good enough to finish sixth in a European Championships and eighth at a Commonwealth Games.

Now, in combination with a job as head of road running at British Athletics and a sideline as the man on the Tannoy at almost every athletics meeting of note, he has encharged himself with guiding Scotland's young middle-distance prospect as he bids to follow in his fleeting footsteps.

The reigning European junior champion over 1500 metres, Jake has no qualms about the blurred lines of responsibility. "It's such a personal relationship that he helps me with anything going on in my life to do with athletics," he reveals. "Other coaches might not be like that."

With the prospect mainly based at university in Loughborough and the mentor having relocated from Edinburgh to Guildford since he stepped down from heading Scottish Athletics four years ago, the pair will be reunited on Saturday in Glasgow for Wightman Junior's outing at the Sainsbury's Grand Prix, the first of a trio of final tune-ups in preparation for his own Commonwealth Games bow. The field is stacked, though, with Kenya's Silas Kiplagat and Bethwell Birgen headlining a field which is also scheduled to include another Games hope from Edinburgh, Chris O'Hare.

The Diamond League circuit, for Wightman, remains a level above. Familial advice, on such terrain, is a major boon. "There's a huge plus for me in dad knowing how it all works," he acknowledges. "Even though, when he was competing, it was a lot different, he's around all the big meetings so he understands the set-up. And he goes into everything in a lot of detail, so I know exactly what I should be able to achieve."

When this event was held 12 months ago at London's Olympic Stadium, it was uncharted territory for the Fettes College-educated prospect. Granted a berth to celebrate his European victory, he was, by his own admission, left for dead amid seasoned company. The finishing time - it was a shade outside four minutes for the mile - was respectable enough; trailing in last in front of 80,000 spectators was a mite sobering, though.

"I feel a bit more ready now," he reflects. "I have to stay patient. I can't expect to be up there mixing it from the start. I had it in my head that I was way too slow to be in that race and I allowed myself to fall right to the back. And then everyone else just pulled away from me and I was on my own.

"This time, I'm going in with a bit more positivity. It's nice to have other Brits in the field, just to know that you won't be completely swamped by Africans. It's an opportunity to get pulled round. But I've nothing to lose."

Times, more than positions, are the prime target both this weekend and on his return to Hampden in a few weeks' time. His selection for Scotland's Commonwealth squad was made, overtly, to provide valuable insight for the future, perhaps even with Rio's Olympics in 2016 in mind.

"We don't look too far in advance," Wightman cautions. "It's just a year-by-year thing because you don't know what will happen in the winter. I probably see myself focusing on the 1500 over the next couple of years and trying to get into major championships and actually start getting the experience I need to get to the next level. If I can make those leaps each year, that's a possibility."

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