Josh Kerr: Why I must secure British No1 spot before aiming to be world champion

Josh Kerr is on a mission to shine in Oregon in July, where the Olympic bronze medallist has his heart set on becoming a world champion.

By Mark Woods
Saturday, 21st May 2022, 7:00 am
Josh Kerr won 1,500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics last year and has his sighs set on the World Championship this summer. Picture: Matthias Hangst/Getty
Josh Kerr won 1,500m bronze at the Tokyo Olympics last year and has his sighs set on the World Championship this summer. Picture: Matthias Hangst/Getty

First he needs to secure his spot. To be primed for the scrap, the 24-year-old 1,500m runner from Edinburgh aims to impress on only his second appearance in the Diamond League, today in Birmingham.

The Seattle-based Scot gets a top-class test in a rare UK appearance at the revamped Alexander Stadium where he plans to also hunt Commonwealth Games gold this summer.

Building on his Tokyo podium, Kerr has already added the European mile and British 1,500m record indoors to his collection in 2022. But after racing mostly Stateside since leaving the Capital at 17, he wants tougher competition closer to home to ensure he remains British number one – and then hunt down the world.

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“I don't think I can ever take my spot in 1500 for granted,” he said. “It's such a deep event. And every year, it surprises me with new people coming through. And I think it's an amazing thing for us, as the future of 1,500 metres running in Britain but a shame.

“It used to be like ‘you ran the standard, you just made the team.’ And so on the day, you're like, 'well, I wish it was like that'. But before and after, I'm like, ‘you know what I really enjoy it because it means that I have to turn up with my A-game.’ I'm always challenged on the UK circuit, I'm challenged way more in the UK circuit than I am ever in the US Circuit. So that's what I love and enjoy.”

Kerr is athlete-first, poster boy second. His sponsorship from shoe company Brooks is reputed to be among the most lucrative in the sport but he has little appetite to cash in further on any celebrity acquired, raising eyebrows this week by signalling his lack of interest “to be on any yoghurts,” in a tongue-in-check slight at the compatriots who have pocketed the shilling from the sport’s major sponsor Muller.

“It's not like I love the attention or anything like that,” he smiled at a minor ruffling of feathers. “As you can see from my Instagram game, it's pretty weak.”

He is a fan of the graft, a trait demonstrated and passed down by his now-retired Edinburgh AC club-mate Chris O’Hare, who blazed a trail across the Atlantic by taking on the American milers at their own game.

“Chris said he wanted to try and be the best in the US or whatever, and try and take that to a world stage,” Kerr recounts. “He admitted to himself that he made a lot of mistakes along the way, but I don't know another athlete that has helped British athletes as much as he has by sharing his mistakes and making sure that no one else makes those, especially with a UK to US transition.

“When he came over to the States, it was very frowned upon by British Athletics. And I think that's changed, through more success coming from, people going to US universities. There's still obviously a little bit of beef there, I guess. But he pioneered that move and showed it's possible to have success and take it to the world stage.”