Sports

Meet Josh Kerr, Britain’s reluctant Olympic hero

Win an Olympic athletics medal for Great Britain, and sure issues will certainly observe: TV talk-show appearances, journal photoshoots, yoghurt endorsement offers – these are the trimmings that include success on the game’s largest stage.

Well, not at all times. The exception is Josh Kerr, who rose with out hint to assert bronze in Tokyo final summer season, following within the footsteps of Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram by returning Britain to the boys’s 1,500 metres podium for the primary time since 1988.

Few had heard of him then, and no person – in Britain not less than – has heard from him since. Kerr, 24, prefers the quiet life, and his outing within the Birmingham Diamond League on Saturday shall be solely his second ever race on the game’s premier worldwide circuit.

In truth, he barely competes a lot in any respect. Based in Seattle since transferring to the United States on an athletics scholarship from the University of New Mexico, the Scot prefers to maintain issues low-key, racing at only a handful of smaller American meets every year earlier than making an attempt his luck at main championships.

Having completed sixth on the 2019 World Championships, he duly took his career to the following stage in Japan earlier than retreating to his lifetime of relative anonymity. The question is, when British athletics successes are so uncommon, why does he not wish to money in?

“I’m not looking to be on any yoghurts,” Kerr tells Telegraph Sport, reflecting on the business offers signed by the likes of Katarina Johnson-Thompson. “These are personal choices. It’s not such as you routinely must do this stuff.

“There are alternatives that come up for sure athletes who get to the calibre of successful Olympic medals, however it’s my job to show as much as main championships and assist GB with the medal rely. That’s what I’m within the sport to do, that’s my aim.

“There’s money that will get thrown round for different stuff, however it’s not one thing that pursuits me. I’m not right here to get well-known, I’m right here to race. 

“All athletes are totally different and I believe individuals prefer to put particular athletes in a cookie cutter: ‘You have to do this, you have to do that’. No, you don’t must do something.

“We have to turn up to the British Championships and qualify – that’s about it, really. Everything else is your own preference. It’s an individual sport and that’s what I’ve chosen to do. I’ve got the [Olympic] medal, what else do I really want from it?”

‘You wish to see who the most effective are and what that is like’

It doesn’t take lengthy talking to Kerr to achieve a way of his willpower, bordering on obstinacy, that has propelled him to the highest of his area.

Of his resolution to go away Edinburgh and transfer throughout the Atlantic as a young person, he merely says he “trusted [his] gut”, including: “You want to see who the best are and see what that’s like.”

After graduating, he eschewed among the better-known coaching teams as a result of he needed to make sure he was not tarnished by any doping associations. “It’s a group that’s honest and hard-working, with no question marks,” he mentioned of his coaching set-up with Brooks Beasts.

He has little curiosity in dialog in regards to the newest spikes expertise or quick tracks, as there may be nothing he can do about both.

Statistics present he’s the one particular person within the prime 35 of Britain’s all-time Under-13 1,500m rankings ever to make it to world-class stage as an grownup. 

He insists it’s no fluke, crediting his Scotland A-team rugby participant father John with aiding his improvement and that of his brother Jake, who performs rugby for Bristol Bears and earned a Scotland cap within the 2019 Six Nations.

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