At the beginning of the day, with Stuart Weir in Oxford, England, and myself in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, Stuart gave me a list of stories he was focusing on. It was no surprise that he was writing on both 3000 meters. He also included the pole vault and 400m; we will see those tomorrow. 

Thanks, Stuart, for a wonderful story! 

Men’s 3000m

Josh Kerr had summed up his race plan for Glasgow in two words: “To win,” and he delivered before a capacity crowd which included his parents, brother, and nephews. He had said: “I wanted to have more of a crowd, but the tickets seem to be a little difficult to get.”

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

Josh had also said that he felt a responsibility to put on a show for the locals: “I don’t feel like I’ve done the British fans as proud as I could have over the past couple of years in terms of the performances in the UK and in Scotland so it’s fascinating to come back in perfect shape and being ready to go after a world title on home soil. I feel like that’s what the UK fans deserve from me. But after obviously the Commonwealth Games and maybe Birmingham indoors last year and some of my performances in the trials, I feel like I haven’t quite been up to scratch recently. And so I’m excited to come home with fantastic fitness, go up against a great field, and see what I’ve got”.

The 3,000m, note Yared Nuguse up front, with Olin Hacker and Josh Kerr in ninth, en route, photo 1, photo by Martin Bateman

Josh had also spoken in advance of the challenge of running 15 laps on a track with tight bends with a field of 12.
It is hard to say who was the favorite in the race – a rarely run distance. Selemon Barega is the Olympic 10K gold medallist from Tokyo. He has also won medals at 3000m in the last three World Indoors. Josh Kerr is not only the World Outdoor 1500m champion but has just broken the World Record for 2 miles at the Millrose. Yared Nuguse had won two Diamond League 1500s last year. The only one missing was a blindfolded Jakob Ingebrigtsen – the Norwegian had said last month that he could beat Kerr with a blindfold!

Barega was an early leader who opened up a gap for the rest. That seemed his best chance of a win – to stretch the field and run the finish out of the 1500 specialists. Gradually, the pack closed on him. One felt that if Kerr and Nuguse had been able to tell everyone how to run the race, they would have planned it as it happened. Kerr did not lead, but he stayed in touch. Then, on the final lap – shades of Budapest – Kerr moved to the front and would never be caught.

The final result was
1 Josh Kerr 7.42.98
2 Yared Nuguse 7.43.59
3 Selemon Barega 7.43.64

Afterwards, he said: “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”.

Yared Nuguse leads the 3000m, Olin Hacker next, Josh Kerr in sixth,  photo 2, photo by Martin Bateman.

He was chuffed to be addressed in the mixed zone as “Double world champion,” responding, “That sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? It’s been a long time coming, and I think now, and finally, I’m excited to go to a championship, knowing that I’m in a place where I can go out and compete for a win, whatever distance and whatever championships it is. It’s an extraordinary feeling”.

On his tactics, he said: “I came in here without a solid plan for the first time. I was superfluid. I wanted to ensure I wasn’t acting emotionally out there and going with the hard moves that might come back to me. I knew I needed to keep a calm head and keep the heart rate down as it is a much longer race than I am used to. It was an emotional day out there. I tried to keep a patient head and stepped on it with 400m to go”.

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

A personal reminiscence from me about Josh the man. I asked if I could have a word in Zurich last summer. He is always obliging, but on this occasion, he said, “Sorry, I cannot. I am about to throw up”. Ten minutes later, I heard a voice: “Stuart”. He explained that he was feeling better and was happy to speak. A great athlete and a fine man.

Finally, I love it when an official flash-quote collector has an agenda. Josh was asked tonight: “World Athletics is celebrating International Women’s Day next Friday. I want to ask you, who is your female hero?” His reply was:

“My fiancée is in her first-year residency as a doctor and one of the hardest working people I know who inspires me every day and makes me feel lazy with the hours she puts in the hospital.” He added his mom and his future mother-in-law! A great athlete, a good person, and a diplomat