World champion Wightman: Star-studded introduction just what my Commonwealth campaign needed

Wightman won his heat to advance to Saturday’s showpiece final, a high-quality highlight of the athletics programme in Birmingham

<p>Jake Wightman wins his Men's 1500m heat at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)</p>

Jake Wightman wins his Men's 1500m heat at the Alexander Stadium in Birmingham. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Jake Wightman admitted being introduced as the new world champion was just the boost he needed to kick his Commonwealth Games campaign into gear.

It’s just 16 days since Wightman claimed 1500m gold in Oregon and he admits emotions have been spinning ever since.

But it was back to business in Birmingham as he won his heat to advance to Saturday’s showpiece final, a high-quality highlight of the athletics programme here.

“It’s so cool to be announced as world champion, I never really thought of it until it happened but it’s a real confidence boost," said Wightman.

“It was even nice just walking out around the bend, just to have the people clapping and saying well done and good luck to me, it’s special.

"That’s definitely the most it’s sunk in since it happened, I thought ‘yeah I’ve actually done that’."

While some events at these Games lack star sparkle, that cannot be said of the 1500m, with Kenya’s former world champion Timothy Cheruiyot among those snapping at Wightman’s heels.

Half of the 12-strong final field will be from Great Britain, with Australia’s Oliver Hoare the quickest qualifier.

Joining Wightman will be Scotland team-mates Josh Kerr and Neil Gourley, England’s Elliot Giles and Matthew Stonier and Wales’s Jake Heyward, an Olympic finalist 12 months ago in Tokyo.

Eilish McColgan’s stunning 10,000m gold medal was still the talk of Alexander Stadium this morning with Wightman admitting it left him feeling emotional.

There are a few more popular athletes than McColgan, whose career has too often been a story of injuries and medal near misses.

“It’s so inspiring. I was shocked by it, I know she was in good shape as we were in Colorado Springs at the same time but she’s had a few rough weeks," added Wightman.

“Her Eugene performances were probably not as she wanted. I don’t think people realise how hard that must have been to turn round to run as she did."

Meanwhile, Zharnel Hughes was the quickest qualifier into Friday’s men’s 200m semi-finals where he’ll be joined by England team-mate Adam Gemili, in his first race since splitting with controversial American coach Rana Reider.

"There’s no need for statements now, you make statements now and then nothing could happen in the final," said Hughes.

"It’s just about taking round by round, taking it easy, qualify, and when the final comes you unleash the beast."

Gemili refused to discuss his split with Reider – who is facing sexual misconduct allegations that he denies - insisting he was in the shape to put his disappointment showing at the recent World Championships behind him.

"You can’t hang onto those things, it was a disappointing performance by myself but you need to keep looking forward and this always in the back of my mind to get some redemption here," he said.

"I’ll raise my game again in the semis and then hopefully that’s enough to get to the final."

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