© Copyright – 2020 – Athletics Illustrated
Welshman Jake Smith is coming out. Going forward he will self-identify as an Englishman.
Just weeks after breaking the Welsh half-marathon record, Smith no longer feels the need to keep up with the Jones’s, as the saying goes; he’s surpassed them anyway. Well, at least “him” as in Steve Jones who previously held the Welsh half-marathon record.
Smith was born in Bermuda. He became eligible to compete for Wales as he was based in Cardiff, while he studied at Cardiff Metropolitan University for three years.
The 22-year-old bettered Jones’ 34-year-old record during the World Half Marathon Championships that took place in October in Gdynia, Poland.
Smith ran 60:31 to finish 18th. He is now the third-fastest British athlete at the distance. Mo Farah has run as fast as 59:07 and 59:22 on downhill courses and officially clocked a 59:32 in Lisbon in 2015. Callum Hawkins stopped the clock at exactly 60:00 during the 2017 Marugame Half Marathon.
“The big turning point for me was when I broke Steve Jones’ half-marathon record,” Smith wrote on Instagram.
Smith’s performance in Gdynia demonstrated that he appears to be very much a long-distance runner as he had only run 29:30 in a road 10K and 29:01.08 on the track in 2019. He has also run the half-marathon in the time of 62:02 in Nov. 2019.
For Smith, the World Championships performance was surreal. At the finish line, he was greeted by World Athletics President Seb Coe.
“It was a crazy moment. I’ve looked back at the race and the camera and me crying on the fence. It was the first time I’d met Seb Coe and I basically started crying right there.”
The legendary Jones had run the half-marathon in the time of 60:59 on a downhill course and officially held the record at 61:14 since 1986.
He also held the marathon world record at 2:08:05 from his Chicago run in 1984. The time was bettered shortly after by Portugal’s Carlos Lopes with his 2:07:12 performance at Rotterdam. Jones came within one second of that time later that year running Chicago in 2:07:13.