IT’S never previously been on Josh Kerr’s radar, but this summer he’s realised that if he wants to become the very best 1500m runner on the planet, his next target must be to break the world record.

Kerr’s run in the Olympic Games final last month, in which he set a new personal best of three minutes 29.05 seconds to claim bronze, was impressive but he knows that to take the step up to the next level, he needs to set his sights far higher.

This summer has seen three of the distance’s top 10 fastest times ever recorded, with Olympic champion, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, silver medallist, Timothy Cheruiyot and Spaniard, Mohamed Katir all writing themselves into the history books.

Kerr currently sits in 18th place on the list, which is nothing to be sniffed at, but the 23-year-old is well aware that he must get closer to the current world record of three minutes 26 seconds, set by Hicham El Guerrouj in 1998, if he is to add further to his medal tally.

“Looking at the shape of 1500m running currently, if you’re not going after the world record, you’re doing something wrong,” Kerr says.

“That’s never really been on my radar before but that’s the way it’s going with the event, that’s where you have to be looking.

“The 1500m is hard right now, it’s a hard event to be the best in the world at.

Glasgow Times: Josh Kerr poses with fans in EdinburghJosh Kerr poses with fans in Edinburgh

“So the next big idea is to see if I can get close to the 3:26 mark. Being in the shape to do that after a couple of rounds at a championship is the thing that’s most important and the thing that’s vital if you want to win 1500m gold.”

Having had almost two months to reflect on his performance in Tokyo, Kerr admits he has found it impossible to feel unadulterated joy about his medal-winning run.

It was not, he admits, a flawless championship – he was almost eliminated in the heats, only scraping through as a fastest loser – and having arrived in Tokyo with his eyes on gold, there remains a tinge of disappointment at merely collecting bronze. However, the fact that at the age of only 23, he is likely to have numerous major championships left in him gives him encouragement he will have plenty more opportunities to upgrade his bronze.

“It wasn’t a perfect Games for me but I was able to perform when it was time to perform which is key so it was pretty good,” he says.

“I’d like to think that in any other year, I’d have won that so it’s tough to be completely happy with third place when you’re in the shape to break Olympic records.

“It’s bittersweet, in a way, to get a medal but not the one you really want.

“It’s a start though – if I was at the end of my career I’d definitely think differently about coming away with bronze but right now, I still have time to go back out there and get a better colour.”

Already Kerr is thinking about next season, which, unprecedentedly will include a World Championships, Commonwealth Games and European Championships.

He is open about his lofty goals for 2022, although seems completely unburdened by the pressure of expectation that is now upon him. And he is in little doubt that his best is yet to come.

“The best thing is to only focus on the next competition so for now, I’m completely focused on the World Champs and than as soon as that’s done, my focus will switch to how to win gold at the Commonwealth Games. Then I’ll see about the Europeans.

“If I can come away with two golds next year it’ll be a reasonably successful year,” he says. “The only pressure I feel is the pressure I put on myself. I hold myself to quite a high standard and I’ve put pressure on myself my whole career so it doesn’t feel much different now.”

Having spent a week in his home city of Edinburgh in what was his first trip back for over a year and a half, Kerr returned to his American training base in Seattle for the resumption of training yesterday.

And having spent the past six years Stateside, Kerr, a Brooks athlete, admits that, in the short-term anyway, it is difficult to see a return to the UK, particularly if his athletics continues to improve as it currently is as part of the Brooks Beasts Track Club.

“I’m not sure what’ll happen in the long-term but for now, my set-up is working very well,” he says.

“My life is over there and I’m very happy there so I don’t have any plans to come back over here to train, although I’d like to come back more to see my family so hopefully the travel restrictions ease a little.

“It’s not that I don’t want to live in the UK, it’s just that my life is developing in America, I’m working with a coach, Danny Mackey, who I really like working with and things are going very well for me over there.”


Josh Kerr was appearing in Edinburgh at an event with Brooks