Josh Kerr’s plan for the weekend is “To win.”

Josh Kerr has always been clear in his own mind that he wanted to run in the World Indoors in Glasgow, less than an hour from where he grew up.  When he spoke to British athletics writers in December, he admitted that he was having a difficult job persuading his American coach that going to Glasgow would not be a distraction from his only goal for 2024 – an Olympic gold. To be faithful, Josh also admitted that having a coach with no emotional attachment to Scotland or the UK helped make the decision more dispassionately.

Josh Kerr, 2023 Budapest 1,500 world champion, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics

When Josh met the UK writers again last week, he explained the process that led him to make it to the 3000m in Glasgow. He said that he had made a decision not to run in the GB Indoor Champs and selection trials, which he assumed would rule him out of selection for Glasgow.  Then, it was pointed out to him that GB selection criteria exempted Budapest medal winners from running the trials.  Kerr clarified with UK Athletics management that his Budapest gold could earn him selection in the 3000m, not just the 1500.

Josh Kerr is the World Champion, as shown in the photo by Kevin Morris.

The next stage of the process showed great integrity on Kerr’s part.  He was not going to take a place if at the expense of a GB athlete who had the qualifying standard and who had run trials. He takes up the story, “I emailed back to UKA, look, I would love to do this, but I don’t want to take away a spot of someone eligible to go and race if they go through the correct standards and so that pretty much took the 1500 out of the conversation because we had a couple of guys in there that I thought were deserving of a spot, and, if they had the qualifying time, then they were good to go.

Josh Kerr with Media, Budapest, August 2023, photo by Stuart Weir

“So I then had conversations around the 3K and said, look. I think I’m in really good 3K shape. I’m going to run this two mile if I go and run fast, do you think I could be available for selection for 3K? And they said yeah. And so I said look, again, if someone else has run the qualifying standard and has qualified through British champs, then I will not take the spot off them, but if the spot’s there for me, then, I would love to go and do it. So that’s kind of the thought process that’s been happening this month and why I’ve been kind of quiet about it because I didn’t really want to come out and say, hey, I’m just waiting for a spot to be available, but I wanted to wait till after British champs in case people ran 7:33 in British champs. If they did, I wouldn’t have taken a spot even if I was selected”.

Josh Kerr sets WR at 2 miles in 8:00.67, Millrose Games, photo by Kevin Morris.

After his 2-mile win at Millrose, Kerr will go to Glasgow full of confidence and fearing no one.  Asked if he had a goal for Glasgow, he gave a short answer: “To win”, pausing before elaborating: “I’m here to win in front of my home crowd and I think I’m capable of it. I’m in fantastic shape, but it’s much easier said than done. Some guys in there are obviously fantastic strength runners. There’s obviously a lot of speed in there. So, I’m focused on just executing the plan that I’ve put together. We’ve taken the right steps to feel good on the day, and we’ve come off that two-mile pretty solid.

Josh Kerr breaks 2 Mile World record with his 8:00.67, photo by Kevin Morris for the Millrose Games.

“I haven’t seen the start list yet, but Nuguse is going, and we’re gonna have some very competitive Ethiopians that have shown they can run mid-720s and close very well. So yeah, I think it’s gonna be a great race, and that’s why I signed up for it. I haven’t signed up for an easy win or anything like that. I’ve signed up for another hard race at the World Championships in front of the home crowd. That’s what we’re here to do, put on an exciting race and go out and win. I’m in fantastic shape; obviously, I showed that Millrose, and I think I’m gonna be a real problem for whoever’s gonna be on that 3K start list”.

Josh Kerr showing off his new singlet, photo by Brooks Running

He added about the standard of the event: “What also allows it to be more serious is that these qualifying standards are incredibly difficult to hit, and so the standard of the championship is going to be amazing.”

His final words indicate how seriously he is taking the race: “I wouldn’t say my training has been focused on targeting this specific event. We were definitely working towards Millrose, and then we came off of it extremely well. And I always said through the winter and beforehand: if the body is capable, then I want to do Glasgow. But I think it doesn’t need to be underestimated how tight those bends are, especially doing sessions on them and everything like that, and that two-mile world record definitely took a toll on the body. Still, I’ll bounce back off it really well, and we’re like, ‘OK, we’re good to go.’ And so yes, we’re not training, though. We’re going to be fighting fit.

“And we’re really tapering for this one. So there are no excuses on my behalf if things don’t go the way I want them to,, I’m focused on trying to get a gold medal for our team and do that in front of a home crowd that hopefully inspires the right people to continue our traditions, right?”.

It could be the highlight of the weekend.

Josh Kerr breaks the tape, The Millrose Games
at The Armory Track
New York, NY
2023-02-11, photo by Kevin Morris

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