Josh Kerr: “After the Olympics I want some change” – AW

    Once he achieves his Olympic goal, the 1500m world champion seeks a transformation in the sport following his new signing with Grand Slam Track League

    Josh Kerr has had a bustling year so far, setting a world record in the indoor two-mile event, clinching 1500m gold at the World Indoors in Glasgow and breaking Steve Cram’s longstanding British mile record. Now, he sets his sights on the ultimate prize he has been chasing for years – an Olympic gold medal.

    Last weekend (June 30), the Scottish 1500m runner competed in the 800m at the British Athletics Championships in Manchester, which also served as the Team GB Olympic trials.

    Having already secured his spot on the 1500m team with his World Championship win in Budapest, the 26-year-old opted to run the 800m to maintain his competitive edge.

    However the final moments of the final took an unexpected turn when Kerr collided with eight-times 800m British champion, Elliot Giles in the last 50m – resulting in Giles being unable to make his third Olympic team.

    Elliot Giles and Josh Kerr fall (Getty)

    As Kerr tells AW he remains healthy after the fall, he sets his focus on winning gold in the 1500m at the Olympic Games – the event which saw him win bronze in Tokyo 2021.

    Following the Olympic team announcement on Friday, Kerr will be joined in the 1500m alongside team-mates George Mills and Neil Gourley.

    Aside from his running achievements, he has recently signed with the human movement brand, pliability as well as joining Michael Johnson’s groundbreaking Grand Slam Track League.

    Pliability, a vital component of Kerr’s training regimen for many years, plays a crucial role in his preparation. Recommended for his workouts by his coach, Kerr will now share his expertise through running content, offering insights from his career.

    His signing with Johnson’s new track league marks a pivotal shift in his career as fans can expect to see a lot more of him racing. Kerr will compete in the 800m/1500m category in the league’s four annual Slams which will take place in major cities around the world in 2025.

    In discussing his reasons for the change, Kerr emphasised he no longer wants to worry about going after an Olympic or world title – and instead wants to focus on racing the best. It’s also good news for British fans as he tells AW he plans to compete in the UK more, “because that’s what the UK crowd deserves.”

    AW chats exclusively to Kerr below:

    Josh Kerr (Pliability)

    Why did you decide not to compete at the European Championships?

    We are now within a month of the Olympic Games and injuries and illness are going to take a real toll in the build up. For example, the environment at World Indoors is filled with people who are walking a red line of fitness, illness and injury – it’s a pretty intense atmosphere. I didn’t think it was worth the risk.

    I had raced enough for me and I wasn’t willing to go out and compete for those medals on an Olympic year. If I went out and won gold it wouldn’t meant too much to me this year if it didn’t follow the bigger goal.

    How are you feeling after the fall at Olympic trials?

    Those elements are always going to be part of racing, it’s what it makes it exciting to watch. When you are in those racing minds, you go for the gaps and I back myself all the way there.

    It’s the first time I have lost all year so it is definitely not what I am looking for from a result standpoint but coming away from the fall, being healthy was the most important thing. It’s almost knocked my body into shape and it feels better than it did before the fall. There’s a couple scrapes and bruises but we are doing all right.

    I haven’t been able to do an 800m block in my career yet. I’ve been able to have a smoother year and I was super excited to show off my 800m fitness until about 50m to go in that race but it’s just to way these things work sometimes.

    We are now deep into a 1500m block and since getting back, the sessions are very specific to helping me get through the rounds at the Olympics and execute properly in the final.

    Josh Kerr (Pliability)

    After watching the 1500m in Manchester, what do you make of that Olympic team?

    We are sending three guys that can battle and that’s what we do as a British 1500m team, that is not going to change. I’m gutted that Jake [Wightman] was not able to compete at the Olympic trials but it is difficult to keep a world champion off of an Olympic team.

    From a UK standpoint versus the Tokyo Olympics where we came away with three individual medals I think we are really dangerous and we will start racking those medal counts up.

    How do you feel ahead of Paris 2024 and how do you handle the pressure?

    I am feeling very calm. I think everything is going the way that I want it to go and the stuff that is within my control is extremely well. I’m excited to continue to put this story together.

    It is a very fortunate position to be in and one that I am probably not going to be in many more times in my career – being fit, healthy and ready to go and win an Olympic Games.

    Experiencing pressure in these situations is a privilege. I have earned that pressure because of the performances I’ve put together. I had a home World Indoor Championships this year and I had a lot of races that had a lot of pressure with it. I don’t love the racing scenarios where there is nothing on the line, it doesn’t let me do what I want to do properly. When the pressure is on is when I thrive.

    What is different for you going into Paris compared to Tokyo?

    There was an element of proving myself in Tokyo and proving that I belonged in those races. I hadn’t ran many Diamond Leagues at that point and going into 2021 I hadn’t quite had the results that I wanted to. This one makes a big difference because I know I belong there.

    I know I’m the best 1500m runner in the world so it is just executing a plan of what I do every year. It’s following a blueprint a bit more than before when I was trying to figure out what that blueprint was. There is a lot more eyes on it, adding a bit more external pressure on things.

    Josh Kerr (Getty)

    How did it feel to see two Brooks training parters [Nia Akins and Brandon Miller] secure Olympic selection at the US Trails?

    I’ve got two team-mates now on the Olympic team. Both of them in the 800m are phenomenal athletes and I am sure they can go out and challenge for medals. The US trials is pretty savage and that environment is definitely tough for them. It’s nice to have multiple people on the team and to have those familiar faces in the Olympic village.

    Why did you decide to partner with pliability?

    I’m not someone that really has a lot of partnerships and so when this one came up I recognised the name straight away.

    A big reason was because my gym team actually work with this app and have done for years so I have already been using it. They were working towards running and they wanted a face for the running side and I wanted to believe in the company. I love the vision they’ve got for the running space.

    Structure is a crucial aspect of my life, so I start with mobility routines to prime my body before diving into running training. pliability enables me to take the time for myself both physically and mentally through their customisable mobility routines that focus on breathwork. With my mother being a physiotherapist, I recognised from an early age the profound impact these practices have on performance.

    How does the app integrate into your training?

    There is a couple features on there that we use. One is an assessment tool, known as the Mobility Test, and that is what we have been using in the gym so I know where I need to warm up a little bit more. From that point it is a mixture of stuff on the platform.

    I enjoy the Running Hub and the part of the app that tells you how many days in a row you’ve done because that definitely makes me feel a bit more on top of things. Having those reminders of taking your time with things definitely helps me get into a zone with things.

    Josh Kerr (Pliability)

    Why did you decide to join the Grand Slam Track league?

    I’ve always been very open to progression in our sport and I think there is another way that the running world is moving towards. They approached me to lead their 800m/1500m category and I saw their vision and they understand who I am as an athlete.

    I think it suits me super well and it’ll allow me to race where I want to race and race the people I want to race. I’m looking to race the best people in the world as often as I can and that is sometimes difficult on the circuit because you don’t know where everyone’s going to be. I’m excited to see who else is signing up for it and who I am going to be racing over the next couple years.

    How will this new league change the sport?

    I think the whole sport will change from these meets. I don’t race a ton right now because that’s the blueprint that’s been working but after the Olympics I want some change.

    I think this was the right change for me to race more and enjoy being fit. I want to enjoy being one of the best in the world and not worrying too much about going after an Olympic title or a world title. Once I do what I want at the Olympics, it is time for a change. I want to come home more, I want to race more in the UK because that’s what the UK crowd deserves.

    Find out more about pliability here

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