© Copyright – 2022 – Athletics Illustrated
In 1733, English poet, Alexander Pope, wrote in An Essay of Man, “hope springs eternal.”
Another line in the poem reads, [man], “A being darkly wise and rudely great.”
It was Australian Oliver “Ollie” Hoare who was darkly wise and rudely great in Birmingham at the 2022 Commonwealth Games. He triumphed in the 1500-metre run over World Championships gold medallist Jake Wightman from Great Britain and Kenyan Timothy Cheruiyot, the 2019 Doha World Athletics Championships winner.
Coach Dathan Ritzenhein of the On Athletics Club shared over social media, “This one was so special! So proud of Ollie on his Commonwealth Games victory today. He has the heart of champion and today he showed that it’s what’s right there that matters most!”
The 26-year-old Cheruiyot had the lead during the final lap but lost it to Wightman with fewer than 200m to go. He re-took the lead, however, left it all out on the bends and the straightaway. Cheruiyot had little left when Hoare rudely passed him at the line in a new Games record of three minutes and 30.12 seconds. Cheruiyot finished second at 3:30.21. Wightman took bronze in 3:30.53.
Forty-eight years prior, the great Filbert Bayi of Tanzania set the previous record from the 1974 Christchurch, NZ Games at 3:32.16. Morrocan Hicham El Gerrouj continues to hold the world record at 3:26.00 from Rome’s Golden Gala in 1998. Hoare is the first Australian since Herb Elliott in 1958 to win the Commonwealth Games 1500m or mile.
As for Wightman, he was hoping for a gold hattrick after winning the World’s in Eugene. He shocked Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen and the track world with that win. Wightman wanted to win in Birmingham, two weeks later. It was suggested that he not race at the Commonwealth Games. Next up are the European Championships happening in Munich, Germany in less than one week (starting Aug. 11). However, he harbours no regrets.
The 25-year-old Hoare also owns the Oceania and national record of 3:47.48 in the mile (1609m) race from June this year. His Bislett Games performance in the mile in Oslo was a foreshadowing of his Commonwealth Games performance — his first global championships medal. However, he bowed out early at the Eugene World Championships. Hoare did not make it past the semi-final round, so doubt remained; hope, however, is indeed eternal.
Ingebrigtsen was heavily favoured and true to form led almost all of the race at Worlds. The now 28-year-old Wightman finished fifth in Doha in the time of 3:31.87. He finished in 10th in the Tokyo Olympic final in 3:35.09. At the Gold Coast Games Wightman took bronze in the 1500m and fourth in the 800m.
Cheruiyot owns a best of 3:28.28. In addition to his silver medals from Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, and Gold Coast and his gold in Doha, he owns a silver medal from the 2017 London World Athletics Championships. Cheruiyot has won 21 Diamond League races, 19 in the 1500m event, and two in the mile. For Hoare, the win can be considered a scalp, as it were.
For Hoare, the Caringbah, NSW native, he has been knocking on the door of greatness for a few years. He owns three Oceania and Australian records for indoors. They are in the 1500m at 3:32.35, the mile in 3:50.83, and 5000m at 13:09.96.
And poignantly, Pope wrote on…
Go, wond’rous creature! mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time, and regulate the sun
Which, of course, he did and well.
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