Wightman second in Melbourne mile on injury comeback

athletics15 February 2024 13:11| © AFP
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Jake Wightman © Gallo Images

British Olympic gold medal hopeful Jake Wightman continued his injury comeback with a close second place in the mile at the Maurie Plant meet in Melbourne on Thursday.

The 2022 world 1500m champion, who was sidelined for most of last year, crossed a fraction behind Australian Stewart McSweyn, who won in 3mins 52.00secs.

European and Commonwealth Games medallist Wightman pipped Tokyo Olympic gold medal winner Jakob Ingebrigtsen to win the world title in Oregon in 2022.

But he missed his defence in Budapest last year due to a foot injury.

The 29-year-old made his competitive comeback indoors in Boston this month ahead of his first outdoor event in 12 months at Lakeside Stadium.

His long layoff showed in the final kick, where he was unable to reel in McSweyn in a headwind.

"It was a bit up and down, the conditions were tough," said McSweyn. "I just had to hold back because I knew Jake would come and when he was on my shoulder I just said 'I can't let it go.'"

French prodigy Sasha Zhoya – who broke junior world records in pole vault and hurdles – was billed as a major draw at the first World Athletics Tour Gold event of 2024.

But the 21-year-old, who has an impressive collection of accolades including the 2021 world junior title and the 2023 European under-23 crown, injured himself in the 110m hurdles warm-up and did not run.

Australian Olympic high jump silver medallist Nicola Olyslagers cleared 1.99m to continue her Paris preparations, where she is looking to go one better than Tokyo where she was narrowly beaten by Russia's Mariya Lasitskene.

In other events, Australian veteran Kathryn Mitchell, who is targeting a fourth Olympics, won the javelin by almost five metres, throwing 62.12.

Reigning Diamond League champion Matthew Denny could only reach 65.09 to finish behind New Zealand rival Connor Bell (65.18) in the men's discus.