There was to be no gold for Scottish athletes at the European Championships in Berlin but Jake Wightman provided a bronze lining on a memorable night.
There was disappointment for Eilidh Doyle and Lynsey Sharp as they finished eighth and sixth in their events, but Wightman’s medal will long be celebrated having come against an elite field and in scintillating fashion.
Wightman is just 24 but took on an experienced field in a 1,500m race that proved experience isn’t everything, with 17-year-old prodigy Jakob Ingebrigtsen claiming gold.
The Scot went into the race alongside fellow Edinburgh runner Chris O’Hare who finished ninth – and another Briton Charlie Grice – and kicked hard on the final straight to take bronze behind Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski.
“I am relieved to be fair,” said Wightman. “That was the most under pressure I have been at a major championships, you have no idea what’s going to happen and the way everyone was running meant seven or eight of us could have won that.
“I think it was an exciting race for everyone to watch. It was a pretty amazing experience, with the last 100m where us three Brits were all in contention to win. If you re-ran that race 100 times there would be different outcomes, but I am glad it turned out that way.
“On a lot of occasions, especially the last European Championships [in Amsterdam in 2016] I made the wrong move and compromised my whole race. I made sure I was patient today going into the home straight and I think everyone else had that idea which was why it was so intense in that last 50m.
“Another bronze medal this year, so I can’t complain about how it has gone for me.”
The 1,500m final was the last event at Berlin’s Olympiastadion on the night and didn’t disappoint with nobody in the stadium able to predict a winner until the final 20 metres.
Some had billed it as Great Britain versus Norway with Wightman, O’Hare and Grice up against the young Ingebrigtsen and his two older brothers Filip and Henrik.
European champion Filip Ingebrigtsen ended up 12th in a crazy race, with brother Henrik fourth and Grice fifth.
But all the plaudits will deservedly go to teenage Jakob, who promises to entertain crowds for many a year to come. “I didn’t even know that Jakob had won it,” added Wightman. “There was a point where I thought I was going to get him and I thought it was going to be a very tight margin between everyone.
“At 17 if you look at my times compared to his, he is incredible. He would almost be 30 seconds or maybe a minute quicker than me – it’s exciting to see what he is going to be doing in the next couple of years.”
Wightman’s fellow Scots Doyle, pictured inset, and Sharp spoke of their disappointment, with Doyle’s eighth coming in the 400m hurdles and Sharp’s sixth in the 800m.
British team-mate Meghan Beesley did upset the odds to claim an excellent bronze alongside Doyle in the hurdles, but the 31-year-old Perthshire athlete was left to rue an injury that interrupted her early summer.
“I’m obviously gutted with that,” said Doyle, whose final was won by Lea Sprunger of Switzerland. “I thought I was going really well on the back straight and then I hit hurdle six and lost my strides coming into the home straight and I was a bit all over the place.
“After running the semi-final I’m really gutted – I really thought I’d go out there and win a medal but maybe the injury had more of an effect on me than I realised.
“When you come here you want to perform better than that. I think maybe in the long term I can appreciate it’s my fifth European champs, but at the moment I’m bitterly disappointed.”
Sharp has also had a trying year. The 28-year-old went out in qualifying in the Commonwealths and couldn’t deliver her best in Berlin, finishing with a time of 2:01.83 – 1.5 seconds behind winner Nataliya Pryshchepa of Ukraine.
“I’m just disappointed,” said Sharp. “The first lap was physical and I didn’t panic but I just tightened up a little bit down the home straight; I didn’t do what I did in the semi-final.
“I really, really wanted that and I don’t know maybe I just wanted it a bit too much.”
There was more Scottish success in the semi-finals in Berlin, as rising sprint star Beth Dobbin booked her place in tonight’s 200m final with a strong performance.
The 24-year-old smashed a 34-year Scottish record to claim the British Championships title back in July and finished second in her heat behind Netherlands superstar Dafne Schippers.
The Edinburgh AC athlete was running just outside Schippers in lane five, recording a time of 22.84.
Dobbin said: “This time last year I was hoping to make the British Champs finals, so to make the European Championships final is crazy!”
Britian’s men’s 4x400m relay squad of Cameron Chalmers, Dwayne Cowan, Rabah Yousif and Martyn Rooney reached their final after winning heat one.
And the women, featuring Scotland’s Zoey Clark alongside Finette Agyapong, Mary Abichi and Emily Diamond, qualified second fastest behind Italy.
Laura Muir eased into the final of 1,500m which takes place tomorrow. Muir is searching for her first outdoor international title.
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