Jake Wightman’s 1500 metres victory in the World Athletics championship reminds one of the times when British athletes won middle-distance Olympic Golds and became national figures. You didn’t have to follow athletics closely to know the names Coe, Ovett and Cram. Even further back in the 1950s, Roger Bannister, Chris Chataway and Chris Brasher were national figures. Bannister, as almost everyone still remembers, was the first man to run the mile in under 4 minutes, breaking what had seemed an impenetrable barrier and Brasher, who had been one of his pacemakers that evening in Oxford, won an Olympic Gold in the Steeplechase at Melbourne in 1956.

Chataway, who also assisted Bannister by taking over the pace-making from Brasher, never, I think, won gold medals, but one 5000 metres race at the White City in 1954 made the front page of newspapers and him a national hero. In a dramatic finish he beat the great and reputedly invincible Russian Vladimir Kutz; a British victory in the Cold War. I recall even my father, no great sports fan, waxing enthusiastic.

It may be doubtful if Jake Wightman will become a popular hero like these distinguished predecessors. The times have changed. In Bannister’s day, there was only one TV channel and if it featured athletics the audience was huge. Even by the time of Coe and Ovett and the 1980 Olympics, there was still only terrestrial television — the BBC and ITV. Now, of course, we watch sports when, where and how we please. Very few, except athletics fans, will have known much, if anything, about Jake Wightman before this week. Yet, given the level of competition now, and the fact that in the days of these aforementioned triumvirates, East African middle distance runners had hardly made a mark on the world scene, Wightman’s achievements at least match that of these celebrated predecessors.

His background is interesting. His parents are English and both competed for the Great Britain team in championships. But despite this, and despite being born in Nottingham, Jake now counts as a Scot and will be wearing a Scotland vest in the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in a couple of months. Certainly, his athletics career was formed in Scotland as a member of the Edinburgh Athletic Club, his father having taken a post as a director of Scottish athletics. His mother taught and coached at Fettes College where Jake himself was educated. Fettes has been more famous for producing Rugby players and politicians than athletes, even though no great rugby player has come from Fettes for some time, nor any notable politicians following in the wake of Tony Blair and Iain Macleod.

Actually, this is a great time for Scottish Athletics. Fifth behind Wightman in that 1500 race was his club-mate Josh Kerr, bronze medalist in the Olympics last year. Then there is the outstanding middle distance runner Laura Muir and, in the 10,000 metres, Eilish McColgan, whose mother Liz was an Olympic silver medalist, winner of the London Marathon and a BBC Sports Personality of the year. There is no sporting field in which Scotland is currently more successful than on the athletics track.

You wouldn’t think so, of course, from a reading of our newspapers. I would guess that football still gets twice as much coverage here as all other sports put together. It’s bizarre. There has been far more Scottish success in individual sports — athletics, tennis, boxing, swimming, even golf (if not much recently) — than in football where we struggle even to qualify for entry to international tournaments. Moreover all the once proud and — one has to say boastful — Scottish football clubs, even Rangers and Celtic, are now known as “selling clubs”; that’s to say young stars are seen as marketable assets, and clubs cash in on them as soon as they can. Sad, really.

For a few weeks, as a result of Jake Wightman’s triumph, and during and after the Commonwealth Games, we will read and hear a lot about athletics and other individual sports, and stars will be gratefully and enthusiastically featured. Then they will be shuffled aside, returned to the box, as it were, and once again it will be football, football, football. Same in England, of course, but at least their team has some chance of winning cups, not just occasional matches, usually against countries we used to consider beneath our notice.