The European and Commonwealth medallist is now No.2 on the UK all-time rankings behind Paula Radcliffe
Laura Weightman’s performance at the Prefontaine Classic in Stanford last month was so good it saw her move to second on the British 3000m all-time list and storm on to the cover of AW.
Running 8:26.07, the two-time European 1500m medallist and Commonwealth 1500m and 5000m medallist took a huge chunk off her previous best of 8:43.46 from 2013, with only Paula Radcliffe having ever run quicker among Brits.
Weightman finished fifth in a race won by Sifan Hassan in a European record of 8:18.49 and the two will meet again on the track at Friday’s Herculis EBS meeting in Monaco, where they will race the “Brave Like Gabe Mile”, named in honour of US international Gabe Grunewald, who died last month from cancer.
Ahead of the meeting, Weightman spoke with Stuart Weir to reflect on her 3000m PB performance, discuss her best distance and share insight into her coaching set up with former world 1500m record-holder and 1983 world champion Steve Cram.
Did you expect to run that time at the Prefontaine Classic?
“I was surprised I ran so fast. I knew I was in shape and we knew that a low 8:30 was a realistic target going into the race. But to come away with 8:26, in the manner in which I ran the race – being competitive and finishing fifth and beating some high-quality athletes in doing so – that was quite a shock. But I was delighted to run so fast.”
The 3000m is not a championship distance – do you find it hard to run?
“I’ve not run it that often and my last one was back in 2013 in Stretford, Manchester – a track I love (Trafford Grand Prix where she ran 8:43.46). It’s definitely a different kind of race but it’s a distance that is well suited to me with my strength and speed mix. So it is an event that I really enjoy doing.”
What do you think is your best distance?
“The 3000m potentially could be my best distance. I’ve shown that I’ve got strength and speed so I’m definitely excited to explore some more 5000m to see where that could go, translating that 8:26 (for 3000m) up to 5000m. But I definitely see myself as a 1500m runner as well.”
What will you aim to run at the IAAF World Championships in Doha?
“We haven’t decided yet. We will definitely experiment with all the events and distances to see where my ability lies over 5000m whilst I still believe I’m a strong 1500m runner. This is a year where we can try out both events and see where we think my best strength will lie for a championship performance.”
Would it be possible to run 1500m and 5000m in the same championship?
“I think if the scheduling allowed it, yes. But in Doha there is a timetable clash so it would be too much of an ask to double up so I will be focusing on one event.
Tell me about your coach.
“I’ve been working with Steve for just over 10 years – I figured out the weekend of Stanford (Pre Classic) that was around the time he had been coaching me for 10 years. That is quite a long time, especially in elite sport, to be working with the same coach but it’s definitely a relationship from which I have hugely benefited. I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without the work we’ve done together and am extremely grateful to be learning from him all the time.”
Is it an advantage that he has been an elite athlete?
“He is so experienced and he’s got the knowledge. He has got the experience from all the championships and being a world record-holder and Olympic medallist. He’s got so much he can pass on to me and I am definitely learning from him all the time.”