Josh Kerr Delivers for Scotland!

Josh Kerr is the Olympic bronze medalist at 1,500 meters from 2021. Last summer, in hot and humid Budapest, Josh Kerr achieved the plans of his coach, Danny Mackey, by challenging Jakob Ingebrigtsen five times in the last 300 meters, giving us the most exciting finish in a 1,500m since Pekka Vassala’s win in Munich 1972!

Kerr’s win was not a fluke. And it irritated the Norwegian, who, after Josh Kerr’s 2 mile indoor World record of 8:00.53 in Millrose, noted, “I could have beat him blindfolded.”

Well, no one in Glasgow could beat Josh Kerr by any method.

The 3000 meters, Josh Kerr in the pack, photo by Martin Bateman

The pace was total roller derby on the fast new MONDO track. Kerr had to deal with Selemon Barega, World Champion over 10,000m and World Indoor Champion over 3,000m, who had run faster than Josh Kerr this season. He also had to deal with Yared Nuguse, AR holder at Mile, Indoor and out, and one dangerous kicker. Getnet Wale, Ethiopia’s steeplechase star, also had a faster 3,000m than Kerr. But, as Josh Kerr knew, none of that really mattered. This was about championship racing.

But here’s the deal, Josh Kerr wanted this badly. I recall the quote from the 1968 Olympic gold medalist at the decathlon, Bill Toomey. Toomey told me that the winner of most global medals is “the one who covets the medal the most.”

Josh Kerr was knocked around during the final. The term is jostled, but the Scot kept his cool. In the last kilometer, Olin Hacker, an NCAA 5,000m champion (like his father, Tim), charged to the front and shook it up. That increase in pace pushed the race into medal chasing, and Josh Kerr went outside and made his move.

Josh Kerr, WIC 3000m, March 3, 2024, photo by Martin Bateman

Josh Kerr’s last 400m is, well, deadly. He ran 52.65 to distance himself from Selemon Barega. Barega did not notice that Yared Nuguse, coming from way back, passed Wale, and then Barega took the silver. Getnet Wale took the bronze, with Olin Hacker in fifth!

There is an art form to championship racing. Just because you can run fast with pacers does not mean you have any skills that must be developed to race at a championship level. Josh Kerr has those skills. Danny Mackey has helped him hone them. The better that Josh races, the more confident he gets.

In Glasgow, Hannah England, WC Moscow 2013 bronze medalist, commented on the 3000m on the WA broadcast. She was concerned that Josh Kerr was staying out of the fray so long in the race. The truth was that Josh did not make any wrong moves in the race; he stayed flexible enough to make the move when he had to. His last 400 meters showed a genuine appreciation for how to defeat athletes, most notably the Ethiopian contingent, who were faster than him.

What do I like about Josh Kerr? He is confident. He also is realistic. Josh Kerr loves to race. And in Glasgow, Josh Kerr kept his cool and made his move when he knew it was his time. His time came with 400 meters to go, and Josh Kerr took the lead and did not relinquish the lead, having enough real estate to celebrate in front of his countrypeople.

Josh Kerr gave Team GB its first championship medal in Glasgow, Scotland.

British Athletics celebrates Josh Kerr.

This was a huge emotional moment for Josh Kerr. Post-race, in his inimitable style, Josh told the assembled media:

“I just didn’t want to shortchange anyone tonight because I knew I had the support of all Scotland and the UK tonight. But I think I used more energy celebrating than I did in the race. This was so important to me because I’ve come to championships before not ready to take a real swing at it, and I feel like I’ve let the UK audience down a bit the way I’ve performed in front of them, so to come here fit and ready to go and to do it here means everything. I had to keep a patient head and let it come together. I’m so glad I could do that. It wasn’t the cleanest race, but I got it done, and having another world title feels amazing. This packed Scottish stadium sounded like the loudest I’ve ever heard. I knew I needed not to let them down. It was emotional out there.”

Josh Kerr takes the gold for Team GB in the 3,000m, photo by Dan Vernon Photo for e

Yared Nuguse, the silver medalist, achieved his first global medal and was ecstatic! Here’s what Yared told the media in the mixed zone:

“I feel like, Finally, I have achieved it. The atmosphere was electric, and the crowd was hyped in the last two laps. It would be pressure with anything, but I liked it a lot. The 3000m is nice because it helps to build my strength and is not super sharp like 1500m, but I will double up. It felt like a nice competition to run against all these guys, and I was happy to do it. I saw the ending of the women’s 3k, and I saw Elle when she won. I am so proud of her; she killed it. We will be like: Wow, good job. This is my first major medal, and it means a lot to me. I have been expecting it for some time; I have been on this level; I was number two last year and did not get it, so I was just going through these races, and now, I am really excited. My parents will tell me that I should have gotten the gold faster.”

Yared Nuguse winning the mile at Millrose Games, photo by Kevin Morris.