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Josh Kerr delivers early Olympic warning to Jakob Ingebrigtsen – ‘I just hope he’s ready to go’

Josh Kerr took world gold ahead of Jakob Ingebrigtsen last summer  (Getty Images)
Josh Kerr took world gold ahead of Jakob Ingebrigtsen last summer (Getty Images)

Josh Kerr has no interest in playing down his rivalry with Jakob Ingebrigtsen – he’s more than happy to fan the flames and ramp up the war of words in the build-up to Paris 2024.

Kerr’s 1500m rivalry with Ingebrigtsen promises to be one of the key narratives at the Olympic Games and it’s currently advantage to the Brit, after beating his Norwegian foe to gold at last summer’s World Athletics Championships.

That’s only part of the story. Kerr described the Norwegian as having “major weaknesses” and “surrounding himself with yes men” in a podcast last year. After he won the world title last August, Ingebrigtsen called the Scot “just the next guy.”

On the prospect of another duel in Paris, Kerr says: “I just hope he’s ready to go. I hope that when we cross that finish line in August, that everyone can shake each other’s hand and be like, ‘whoever wins is good, they’re the best.’

“My job is to go out and win a gold medal and I think I will. And when it does, I want all of my competitors to say, ‘you know what, he was better than us today.’”

Sadly, the public will be denied a potential early preview of the Olympic showdown at the World Indoors in Glasgow in March, with Ingebrigtsen not competing due to an Achilles injury.

Josh Kerr stunned Jakob Ingebrigtsen to claim world gold last summer (AP)
Josh Kerr stunned Jakob Ingebrigtsen to claim world gold last summer (AP)

Meanwhile, Kerr hasn’t missed a day of winter training but it will be another slimline indoor season for the 28-year-old, who is himself undecided on whether he will compete on home soil.

“I haven’t had the honour of racing a tonne in Scotland since I got good,” explains Kerr, who hopes to take down the two-mile world record at the Millrose Games in New York City on February 11.

“I started out racing at Scotstoun and Kelvinhall and it means a lot, the crowd is so knowledgeable and loves the sport and they deserve to have their best runners there. But the timing is just awful. The big thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is the Olympic Games and I’m not going to do anything to jeopardise that.

“I’ve never been someone who has raced a bunch, or someone who has raced a bunch indoors. Ultimately the gaffer [coach Danny Mackey] will make the decision and take the emotion out of it.”

Kerr places his faith in a man he calls ‘gaffer’ – coach Danny Mackey and the Seattle set-up that delivered him global glory in Budapest last summer.y

Kerr credits coach Danny Mackey with a lot of his success (Getty Images for World Athletics)
Kerr credits coach Danny Mackey with a lot of his success (Getty Images for World Athletics)

Their training delivers, among other things, astonishing range. This is a man who can sprint past Ingebrigtsen in the home straight and run a 61.51 half marathon.

Next – the promise of an all-out-attack approach to winning Olympic gold in Paris.

“Maybe it’s ego-driven, maybe it’s money-driven, I don’t know what it is now,” says Kerr, who is one of over 1,000 elite athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded World Class Programme, allowing him to train full time, have access to the world’s best coaches and benefit from pioneering medical support – vital for his pathway to the Paris 2024 Games.

“I’ve kind of done what I was supposed to do and become world champion. Now we’re just having fun with it and that’s when I get real dangerous, when there aren’t really any more expectations, it’s just swinging for the fences.

“At the Olympics, if there’s a 99 per cent chance of bronze and a 1 per cent chance of gold, we’re going to swing for the fences and get that gold medal.”

Not a straight-A academician at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh, Kerr’s competitive instincts were hewn by a sibling rivalry with brother Jake – a Scottish rugby international.

Kerr’s brother, Jake, is a professional rugby player (Getty Images)
Kerr’s brother, Jake, is a professional rugby player (Getty Images)

It all proved a petri dish for a chemical romance with athletics and the brutal accountability of the clock.

“I’m just a competitive individual, I have high standards for myself,” adds Kerr. “I found this sport and I was brilliant at it. I’ve always been good at it.

“If you’re really good at something and other people are good at it too, there’s just this ego element. I feel like I’m better than you.

“I have a very good understanding of our sport and I love the sacrifices it takes. I love the lifestyle it brings, I love running every day and I love doing those little things that I don’t think anyone else does.

“I’ve fallen in love with the sport for years and years and I don’t deserve anything from it. I’m going to earn everything that it’s going to give me.”

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