This is part 2 of Stuart Weir’s interview with Josh Kerr, the 2021 Olympic bronze medalist and 2023 WC gold medalist at 1,500 meters. Josh is focused on Paris 2024, and that is the subject of this interview.

Josh Kerr – preparing for Paris

Does being World Champion change anything as you enter the Olympic year?

Not really.  Every stone is gonna be turned this year. I’m good enough now. I know I have the capabilities, and we’re coming into an Olympic year at the peak of my career. And so I’m just gonna be on that road map to success, and it’s not going to change really anything that I do.

What does your coach Danny give you?

Danny’s gone through it.  Danny’s a single dad, and he’s also got 14 or 15 other athletes that he treats like his family. And I think it’s going really well. I think for him like he’s going through a lot in his life, but what that’s allowed him to do is really focus on the important things in his life, and that’s his daughter and his coaching. And I don’t believe that he’s missed a beat or skipped a beat when it comes to coaching, and I owe him my career. I will always have so much time to respect him for that. And I see him every day and I can’t really sing his praises enough really.

Coach Danny Mackey with Josh Kerr and Brooks Beasts TC teammates, photo by Paul Merca /@paulmerca70601

The World Indoors is in Scotland, will you be there?

We haven’t really made any set indoor plans yet outside of Millrose. And so we’re kind of in a situation where we roll with the punches a little bit. But again, August 6th is the big day, and if I’m able to be in a situation where I am pretty much trying to convince my coach that it’s a good idea to run two major championships within three or four months of each other, then I’ll be able to do it.  But that’s where it’s almost nice not to have the emotional, British coach thinking we have to do Glasgow. This is because that’s the drum I bang like ‘look, it’s in Glasgow.  I grew up racing there. It’s an hour away from where I live. I’ve got to do this’ and he’s like ‘well, you told me that everything has to be towards this August 6th goal.  So why are we getting emotional – when, like, even if you win World Indoor gold and if you don’t make the Olympics, then the year is a failure.

So it’s difficult to have an American coach sometimes, but it helps in other ways. And whereas if I had a British coach, I think it would be a situation of like ‘let’s do it. Let’s get patriotic. Let’s get down to Glasgow and do our job’ –  which is what I want to do, but… We’re kind of in those discussions now, and it’s been a very difficult conversation, but we’re we haven’t come to any conclusions yet.

Josh Kerr, ready to pounce! The Millrose Games
at The Armory Track
New York, NY
2023-02-11, photo by Kevin Morris

What do you make of the departure of Stephen Maguire from UK Athletics 9 months before the Olympics?

Look, I think a lot of things in that situation happened behind closed doors. We don’t really get informed too much about it. I work day-to-day with Steve Vernon.  He is a fantastic endurance coach. He has made a massive difference since coming in and doing really well in his role. He’s been on the fence as much as possible. He just comes in, and he does his job properly, and I think that’s helped a lot when it comes to the middle distance and endurance stuff.

I didn’t really work a ton with Stephen. I think he approved me running 800 [rather than 1500] at GB trials which I was very grateful for, and because it was in the selection criteria, but I didn’t really work too much with him.  I worked him with him a little bit at Scottish Athletics but not too much in British Athletics. But we have a busy year coming up and I said, ‘look, I’m going to do my job as long as you do your job, then we’ll be fine’. And that’s the way I look at it, and I’m going to continue to work with Steve.

You mentioned the August 6th date? Have you visualized what it’s going to look like? 

I’ve had this Olympic circled for a very, very long time, 12 years to be exact. And I realized at that point, at 26, I would be at the peak of my career for 1500. It made sense that this would be the one. So, I’m excited to continue that dream. I’m very close. I look back sometimes and think, if I could dream up a situation of coming into the year as a current world champion and already having an Olympic bronze medal, I wouldn’t be in a much better position than I am right now. So I’m going in with confidence, and yeah, I’ve been dreaming about this one for a long time, and it means a lot to me.  I’m just there to do a job.

Josh Kerr, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, photo by Kevin Morris

So you were 14 years old when you saw Paris as the goal. Develop that a bit.

It was from that age when I started to win Scottish titles and things like that. And I was like, wow, I think I could really make it to this next step. And I had very good parents to help me realize that dream as well and help me make sure that I could make a plan to get to that big end goal. Look, I’ve been in this sport to be the best at it, and I’ve shown that I could do that, and now I need to show it the in the right year to get the respect from the world. So I just need to get it right, and that’s my job, and that’s what gets me up and out the door and training. I’ve had a fantastic winter season. I’m just getting ready for a good indoor season.

Josh Kerr wins 1,500m photo by Getty Images for British Athletics

Will the stakes feel higher, do you think, as it’s an Olympics?

No, I don’t think so. For me, I go in with a similar mindset. We tried lots of different things coming into each championship, and we’ve learned from each one.  I’ve been to five championships now, so I have an idea of what I’m doing. So it’s just bringing that experience from the previous five into this next one and knowing that more people care about it and understanding that it’s going to take more of my time. And just having the right people around me to help me navigate that, and I’m not here on my own. I’ve brought on five or six people this year. We’re just setting up everything so that everything can kind of fall into place, and all I need to think about is winning the gold medal in Paris.

  

Quotes from Josh Kerr at a briefing for GB athletics writers, December 2023,

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

To read part 1 of the Josh Kerr Interview, please see below: 

Josh Kerr meets the GB athletics writers, Part 1

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