World Championships 2023: Josh Kerr ‘throws 16 years in the sport at the final 200m’ to become 1500m champion

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As Josh Kerr, adorned with a golden crown, absorbed the moment in Budapest, a 16-year dream had finally come true.

For three-and-a-half minutes the 25-year-old’s expression had been hidden behind tinted sunglasses as he first bided his time before seizing his moment.

Patiently following pre-race favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen until the final 200m, Kerr, unequivocal in his belief that this was his time, executed his decisive move to perfection.

Moving shoulder-to-shoulder with the Olympic champion, he would not relent in his pursuit of World Championship gold and a first global title.

It was a fitting way for the Briton to secure the medal he had long known he was capable of.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Kerr, an Olympic bronze medallist in the distance, said afterwards.

“I didn’t feel like I ran the best race. I just threw my whole 16 years of this sport in to that last 200m and didn’t give up until the end.

“It’s quite an overwhelming experience but I’m so proud of myself. I’m so proud of my team and my family that got me here.”

There was certainly no shortage of confidence on Kerr’s part. Prior to the championships, he declared that he believed Ingebrigtsen – Norway’s 22-year-old phenomenon who already has 11 major titles – to be “very beatable”.

The Scot had already displayed his ability on the sport’s grandest stage by running a personal best three minutes 29.05 seconds to make the Olympic podium aged 23.

However, hindered by illness, he could only finish fifth at last year’s worlds as Jake Wightman burst past Ingebrigtsen to claim the title.

In doing so, his compatriot and good friend demonstrated the blueprint for victory against Ingebrigtsen, a ruthless competitor who has often appeared untouchable.

Wightman, watching on from his BBC commentary position after being ruled out of this year’s event with injury, delighted in Kerr’s success.

The two are close, having long competed together for Edinburgh Athletics Club, with Wightman tipping Kerr as the winner in the pre-race analysis.

“Ingebrigtsen is going to start hating us Brits, isn’t he?” Wightman joked on BBC TV afterwards.

“It stays in Edinburgh Athletics Club, that’s the main thing! Our little club in Edinburgh has had two back-to-back world champions. That’s hard to believe.

“Josh knew what to do. You saw when he came up on Jakob’s shoulder, that was always the perfect position to be in.

“Honestly, I knew Josh could do that. That medal in Tokyo was just the start of this. When he gets it right and when he’s running well, he absolutely flies.”

Kerr, a man in form with the Paris Olympics less than 12 months away, produced his fastest time of the year to overhaul Ingebrigtsen. In fact, his three quickest times since his lifetime best in Tokyo have all come this season.

With an abundance of belief backed up by noteworthy performances, including being one of just 11 men to go under 3:30 this year, Ingebrigtsen’s unbeaten record and near record-breaking times did not faze Kerr.

He even admitted later to wearing a vest similar to the one Wightman had worn in Eugene in the semi-finals in an attempt to psyche his rival out.

“Josh is like the Terminator – and he looks like it with those shades,” said Wightman.

“He’s just unbroken mentally. His internal confidence is crazy.

“I’ve always been in admiration of Josh. If I could beat Jakob last year, I had every confidence Josh could do it. I’m so, so happy for him.”

Kerr celebrated like a man vindicated, pointing to his head as he roared at the crowd, as though to say he had expected this all along.

But there was emotion behind the bravado, breaking through when he joined his family in the stands and when he spoke about the role they have played throughout his career.

“I’d be proud of giving everything I had in that situation if that was [for] gold, silver or bronze. But I’ve had the bronze – and the gold is a lot sweeter,” a tearful Kerr added.

“This is a lot for our family. They’ve put a lot of time, effort and money into me. I gave it everything for them, myself and my fiancé.

“This is the life I want to lead for them. They’ve given me so much and it was nice to pay that back a little bit today.”

Former 1500m world champion Steve Cram said: “I think Josh has matured a lot in the last couple of years.

“He had a tough year last year but this year, I love the way he’s conducted himself, not just physically but also how he’s prepared himself mentally.

“Jakob Ingebrigtsen must be thinking: ‘I’m never going on holiday to Great Britain and Northern Ireland any more’.”



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