THERE are no stronger track and field disciplines in the UK these days than the men’s 1500m, with Scottish athletes dominating the event.

Chris O’Hare set the standard, making it to his first World Championships final in 2013 before winning European bronze a year later. Since then, a raft of Scottish middle-distance runners have come to the fore, with the current leading light being Jake Wightman, who has grabbed himself a Commonwealth bronze medal as well as a fifth-place finish at the World Championships last year.

Last season saw O’Hare overtaken by the younger generation, with the 29-year-old missing out on a spot in the British team for the World Championships in Doha with three other Scots monopolising the 1500m places, with Neil Gourley and Josh Kerr joining Wightman, all of whom made the final.

However, Wightman, who has his sights set on claiming his seat on the plane to the Tokyo Olympics, expects a rejuvenated O’Hare to be right up there in the intense battle for the three available 1500m places in Team GB this summer.

O’Hare is based in America and after a disappointing 2019, which saw him run more than four seconds slower than the previous year, has started this year in electric form. Despite being just a couple of months into the year, the Edinburgh-born man has recorded wins at the New York Millrose Games and the World Athletics Indoor Tour in Boston and run faster than he did in the whole of last year.

After such an explosive start to 2020, Wightman believes his Edinburgh AC team-mate is firmly back on track.

“If there is one thing we know for certain with Chris it is that he will fight back,” said Wightman. “He’s had his disappointments and his frustrations over the past couple of years but he has a great capacity to turn things around. I think it is very much in his nature to do that.

“Chris has made a good start to 2020 already and, yes, I am very much expecting him to be right in the mix for the Olympics once again.

“I was over in Boston early in the indoor season and we had a chat then. It is always good to see Chris. He was telling me about his two boys and the responsibilities he has as a parent.

“Since I saw him at that stage of the season, he has had a couple more fast runs.”

Wightman, Kerr and Gourley will not only have O’Hare to contend with when it comes to Olympic selection. Englishman Charlie Da’Vall Grice topped the 2019 rankings and will also have a say.

However, Wightman has himself made a strong start to 2020, setting a British record over 1000m in his only race of an indoor season which was cut short by illness and cost him a run at the Muller GP in Glasgow.

“I wasn’t well and missed a couple of weeks training and there was no point in trying to run through it,’ the 25-year-old said.

“In an Olympic year, you tend to have a focus on the summer anyway.

“I’m looking to go in the 1500m and myself, Josh (Kerr) and Charlie (Grice) all have the qualifying standard. That means that I ‘only’ need top two at the trials in Manchester in June to get selected. But saying it out loud is an awful lot easier than making it happen!

“Neil [Gourley] and Chris [O'Hare] will have a say and there could be others."