Josh Kerr: In My Own Words

October 6, 2021

I didn’t do it for the medal. I did it for the memories.

The thing with getting a medal – I wanted to say thanks. It felt like, if I was able to get the medal I could take it and say: “OK, my whole career has been working towards doing this – I can give something back.”

They’d sacrificed so much during my childhood, my parents. They’d drive me to places, pay for stuff, pay for coaching, sit there in the rain and watch me train. Guide me, feed me. Give me the advice to go out there and do stuff.

I left home when I was 17. For the last six years I’ve not lived anywhere near my family. During Covid I said to them – “I’m going to win at the Olympics, and that’s the reason I’m not coming home.” And they were fine with that.

That first medal, I could say: “This is for everything you’ve done for me.” I needed to get that medal. It was everything. I felt like I was there. I needed it. And I needed it for them.

I mean they would never, you know…if I never made the Olympics or made it professional or whatever…they would never need it. But for me it was: “They’ve done so much for me, I need to give you that.”

The first race was bad.

We knew I wasn’t going to feel great, but we didn’t expect seventh in the prelim. I said this in my interviews after the race, and I really hope it didn’t go out on the BBC. I said I didn’t care if I don’t go through. That was the most embarrassing moment of my life, right there. I didn’t deserve to go through, that was my reaction to it.

That was bad and I get what I deserve if I don’t go through.

When you make those mistakes you just need to own up to them. That was a bad round, probably one of the worst races I’ve ran in the last four years. But without that performance I like to think I wouldn’t have medalled.

It made me laser-focused after that. You’re not going to get anything handed to you, first round or not. When you go into the final and you’re like “I might not have been here.”

So I can risk more.

I’m going to throw everything at this. I’m going to risk being last – just go for it.

It was one of those races where you were in it, but I would have loved to have watched it as well. You look around you and it was the who’s who of the last three years in the 1500, they should all be in this race.

With 500 to go it was hunting season – let’s get after it, let’s get these guys in front of me. With 250 to go, if I’m being honest…

There was a moment in 2019 where I could have medalled but didn’t have the strength to medal. So all that was going through my mind was “You never let that happen to you again.” That’s what I’ve been telling myself for two years now, this just never happens again. So it went through my head and I thought “This is great, ‘cos I feel awesome.”

I could see the guys ahead of me and I thought – focus on bronze right now. Kipsang is really good – I was sitting on him and we were gaining on the top two. I could have swung wide and gone earlier and tried for silver. You swing wide, you go for it. The reason Kipsang was fourth was because he gave up with 50m to go because he wasn’t going to get third. It wasn’t that he was tired, he just knew he wasn’t going to beat me. He pulled up and knew he had fourth. But if I’d gone past him in the last 100 and fell apart, if he’d smelled blood he could have gone after me and I’d have ended up fourth.

Once I knew I had third that’s when I went for second. People might blame me for that but to be honest it would have been easier for me to have been fourth than second there, 100%.

Mum’s very outwardly emotional watching me race. Dad’s the complete opposite. He doesn’t want to show his emotions until I’ve crossed the finish line. That day Dad was shouting his head off with 300 to go.

Me and Jake [Wightman] had a nice hug after, and he congratulated me. He was very excited for me but I could tell…he’s so good, and I think he just wasn’t strong enough in that moment to do those three races. He’s a legend, he was super nice and he held his emotions to himself. If you didn’t know him you couldn’t tell, but that’s gonna light a fire in him.

If I’d watched him get a medal…he could easily have medalled on the day… I’d obviously have been extremely proud of him, but it’s like, in those situations when you’re at the highest level of your sport and watching people do what you want to do, it’s tough. There’s nothing I could have said or done – he knows he’s going back to work to put himself into that situation.

Getting a medal off my back is a good thing coming into the next three years. Because, I’ve never ran for third, I didn’t run for third in that race, I ended up in a battle for third. But I know that now that’s done I’m gonna be able to risk a lot more, do riskier tactics to go for gold. If you’re not going to risk anything you’re not going to gain anything.

Because that’s the end result.

You’re running to be the best in the world.


Josh was speaking to co-cost David Ribich on their podcast ‘Sit and Kick’. Click HERE to listen and subscribe.

Josh is one of the first six athletes selected to Team Scotland for Birmingham 2022 alongside Laura Muir, Jemma Reekie, Eilish McColgan, Jake Wightman and Andy Butchart – read more HERE.

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