Jake Wightman eyeing Olympics 2024 redemption after ‘worst year ever’

Jake Wightman ran a PB in his first race of 2024 (Picture: @JakeSWightman/instagram)

Good year, followed by bad year, so this must be a good year again, right? In fact, right now, it feels as if 2024 could be a great year.

It’s just so nice to be back racing again after the disappointment of 2023. Last Sunday I competed in Boston over 1500metres, running three minutes, 34.06 seconds for second place behind Hobbs Kessler of the USA for a new indoor personal best.

It was my first race in over a year and although I didn’t get the victory, the time places me third on the all-time UK rankings before heading to Australia this week, the latest stop on a winter world tour which has taken me to Flagstaff, Boston and South Africa as well as two nights at home for Christmas!

The great Brendan Foster told me at the height of my problems with a foot injury last year: ‘Don’t throw away your training diaries or compare last year to this one.’ His words were reassuring and made me realise 2022 and my world-title victory didn’t mean anything now, and I could move on and start to rebuild.

It was probably the worst year I’ve had but I believe a better one is around the corner. For the first time, I had more time as Jake the person, rather than the athlete, but the overall effect of that time away from running was to show me what it will be like to be retired one day.

There is a finish line in sight for all of us, of course, and athletics is not a long career, so I would say I have more motivation than ever to come back strong. You do think about those days when you won’t be competing when you have so much time on your hands.

Team GB athlete Jake Wightman during a race

Jake Wightman relished being back in competition (Picture: @JakeSWightman/instagram)

As much as it was nice to have some freedom last year, I really want to make the most of Olympic year now.

With a Games only every four years, you know Olympic year is something which happens rarely during your career. Having not made the team in 2016, and then been disappointed to have finished tenth in Tokyo three years ago, I intend to give Paris my very best shot as I will be 34 by the time Los Angeles comes around.

You do begin to think about the future, naturally. There are other things I’d like to do in life and I’m not one of those athletes who will go on beyond their best. As soon as I know I am not able to compete at my top level, I’m done.

I said in Eugene after winning gold in 2022 that I will be able to retire happy, anything else just adds to that. But definitely after a bad year it makes you want more. I spent so long last year visualising just that.

I’d be able to move on happy with what I have achieved. Having won a world title, the Olympics is now the one which is left for me. I haven’t had my best Olympic experience yet, I’m sure of that, and I know I just have to do what I did two years ago but in a different setting. I want it to be the experience I imagined it to be as a child.

It will take absolutely everything I can give and I know that so I’m working hard in preparation for Paris because I don’t want to leave any stone unturned or leave anything to chance.

I’ve missed running, missed competing, and in my mind I know this could be my last throw of the dice in Olympic terms. It was the right decision to sit out the defence of my world title in Budapest last summer to allow my injury to properly heal and now I aim to make up for lost time.

I also feel I am still in my best years. I have nothing to fear and want to make sure 2024 is my year now. After Sunday, I have genuine belief that I can do just that.

National Lottery players raise more than £30million a week for good causes including vital funding into sports – from grassroots to elite. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk


MORE : The pressure for Paris gold is all internal as Olympic journey takes me full circle


MORE : Mark Selby speaks out on cancer nightmare of wife, Vikki, and close friend

General Sport