Elite athletes often have their parents cheering them on in the audience at championship events, but for one UK runner at the World Athletics Championship in Eugene, Ore., his dad's appearance was extra special. In what the Guardian describes as "Britain's most surprising gold medal" in the nearly four-decade history of the event, 28-year-old Jake Wightman claimed the 1500-meter world title, becoming just the second Brit to do so. He crossed the finish line with a time of 3 minutes and 29.23 seconds. And it was his father, Geoff Wightman, a stadium announcer for decades, who got to cover his son's achievement.
Online video shows Geoff standing excitedly and calling the race as it came to its conclusion, along with a clip of Jake's celebrating mom, Susan. "Jake Wightman has just had the run of his life," Geoff told the crowd, per the Guardian, adding, "My voice has gone." He also had to explain to the audience why the big screen at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field was suddenly trained on his own face: "That's my son. I coach him. And he's the world champion." Other footage circulating on social media shows Geoff announcing his son as the world champion during the medal ceremony, as well as Geoff and Jake hugging right after that, the gold medal around his neck.
The win was a surprise for Jake, considering he'd only earned as high as a bronze in both the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia and the European Championships that same year in Berlin. Indeed, the Guardian notes UK Athletics originally booked him a seat on a flight that departed just an hour after the medals ceremony was scheduled to occur. He was also competing against other world-class runners such as Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Timothy Cheruiyot, Josh Kerr, and Abel Kipsang. Somehow, he pulled it off. "I've given up so much to get to this point, such a lot of things sacrificed, and this makes everything worth it," he said after the race, per CNN. (Read more athletes stories.)