Ollie Hoare wins epic Commonwealth Games 1500m final for Australia

Jake Wightman gave it his all in a Commonwealth All-Age 1500m final. This time, however, the familiar formula didn’t quite work as Ollie Hoare pounced at the last to win Australia’s first middle distance gold at these Games since Herb Elliott in 1958.

Hoare promised to buy the legendary Elliott, now 84, a drink. It’s sure to be a celebration.

However, Wightman had no regrets after his bold bid to win three major titles in one summer – at the Worlds, Commonwealths and Europeans – fell short. Two weeks ago in Eugene, the 28-year-old Scot had surprised everyone by kicking for glory with 200 meters to go and then holding on for a famous world title.

This time, however, when he repeated the trick, his pursuers were ready and his legs were a little heavier. And although still leading with 50 meters to go, he was overtaken first by Kenya’s Timothy Cheruiyot and then by Hoare, who rose just before the line to win in a Commonwealth Games record 3: 30.12. Cheruiyot won silver in 3:30.21 with Wightman 0.32 in third.

“That was as good as it could have been,” Wightman said. “I didn’t want to be a pedestrian and run for minor medals. I wanted to make a statement, but I didn’t feel as good as I did a couple of weeks ago.

“I knew when I went that I was going to have a tough home straight, but I hoped everyone else felt the same way,” he added. “At first I was quite disappointed, but if you told me that I would come back two weeks after winning the world champs and in a similar field I would collect a bronze, I would be very happy. It’s very tough mentally to come back from that.”

Scotland's Jake Wightman after finishing third.
Scotland’s Jake Wightman after finishing third. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Observer

The bookies might have made Wightman the odds-on favourite. But he, like the rest of us, knew it was a 1500m final full of class and doubt. Three of the top four finishers from last year’s Olympics were in the field, along with Hoare, who had had several notable performances this season before going out in the worlds semi-finals. This was to prove the sweetest of redemptions.

There was no stopping him as Kenya’s Abel Kipsang tore down the track in the first lap in a blistering 54 seconds, with Cheruiyot close behind. But Wightman looked well placed before making his move on the back. “It was kind of instinctive,” he said. “I wanted to get back to the corner at the front. I knew I wasn’t as fresh. I hung around on the home straight, instead of feeling strong. I felt quite vulnerable.”

Hoare, meanwhile, was reveling in an impressive victory. When asked for his thoughts, he simply replied, “Bullshit.”

Ollie Hoare celebrates after his win.
Ollie Hoare celebrates after his win. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Observer

“The race went fast right away,” he said after regaining his composure. “But I’ve been training for a fast race and I ran 3:47 in Oslo for a mile, so I knew I had the strength. It was just about making the kick at the right time.”

“I went around the inside with a lap to go and I saw Jake next to me and I started to panic because he’s the world champion. And you can hear the Scottish roar in the stadium. But I tried to keep calm. And then with 100 meters to go, when I went out into lane three, it was just about keeping my form and running like hell.”

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But it was only in the last five meters that he finally got up when Cheruiyot tripped.

“I could tell I had it because I couldn’t determine where anyone else was,” Hoare said. “So I was in a very volatile position, even if you’re of his caliber. And I saw it start to close and I knew I had more juice in the tank. I thought, not today. I’m going to go get it today. And I to be able to reach the end”.

Elsewhere on the final morning of athletics there was a golden hammer for England in the form of Nick Miller, whose modest throw of 76.43m was good enough against a weak field.

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