Josh Kerr outlines his ambition to run for Scotland at Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in 2022

Olympic medallist Josh Kerr has targeted the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham as a major goal for 2022.

Britain's Josh Kerr with his bronze medal on the podium after the men's 1500m event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic. Picture: AFP via Getty Images
Britain's Josh Kerr with his bronze medal on the podium after the men's 1500m event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic. Picture: AFP via Getty Images

The Edinburgh athlete won a stunning bronze in the 1500 metres in Tokyo and would love to pull on a Team Scotland vest next year.

Kerr, 24, has never run in a Commonwealth Games which will take place in 2022 in between the World Championships in Oregon and the European Championships in Berlin.

It’s a hectic summer of athletics and Kerr thinks he will be able to compete in two of the three big events. The lure of running for Scotland holds a big appeal for the US-based middle distance runner.

“I’d say I would like to race in at least two of the big championship events next summer,” said Kerr in an interview with Scottish Athletics.

“I’ve never run at the Commonwealth Games and hopefully will be selected by Team Scotland.

“I love major championship running. I would love to run a Commonwealth Games. Those are the kinds of things when growing up, and competing in Scottish age group champs or whatever, that you are looking towards and wanting to be involved in.

“It would be a really cool thing to do to wear a Scotland vest. I’ve not been home for a very long time so Birmingham 2022 is a big goal for next summer.

Josh Kerr celebrates after winning the bronze in Tokyo. Picture: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

“It is pretty much the same as a World Champs except we don’t have the Americans and the Norwegians – I will just have to deal with the Kenyans in the 1500m.

“I’m very excited about next summer because I am a championship racer and that’s why I'm in the sport.”

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Kerr, under the tutelage of coach Danny Mackey, ran a personal best to claim the Olympic bronze medal in Tokyo, breaking the Scottish record in the process with his time of 3min 29.05sec. Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway won gold in 3:28.32, a new Games record, with world champion Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya taking silver. Ingebrigtsen was the first European winner of the men’s Olympic 1500m since Spain’s Fermin Cacho in Barcelona in 1992.

“It was a long time coming – I was waiting for the Olympics for two years effectively [after Doha World Championship in 2019],” said Kerr.

“Tokyo was at the front of my mind for a long time and you put a plan together to try and peak on the date of the final – August 7, 2021.

“Then you just hope and pray that it goes to plan and things don’t go wrong – and there are so many little variables that can happen.

“I’m proud of how I handled it all and thrilled to come away with some ‘hardware’.”

Kerr will return to Scotland later this month and is planning a visit to Edinburgh AC to thank his former coaches.

“I’m coming to Edinburgh in September and I will take the medal down to Edinburgh AC to show youngsters and there are a lot of people there who are part of it and whom I want to thank in person,” he added.

Kerr’s medal success in Tokyo came 24 hours after fellow Scot Laura Muir had won silver in the women’s 1500m with a courageous run in which she shattered the British record and beat world champion Sifan Hassan. As a fellow 1500m runner and a contemporary of Muir’s, Kerr said the Perthshire athlete’s success was inspiring.

“I don’t do my social media when at a major champs, so I probably wasn’t close to the feeling back in Scotland but we watched the race and the interviews and of course we knew what it meant to Laura,” he said.

“In her interview she said how hard she had worked and for how long and, again, that was another motivator for me – to try and grab the Olympic opportunity.

“I could see the emotion. I’ve watched Laura racing growing up myself and racing 1500m so a medal close to home was inspirational.

“She ran that final quite superbly and to beat Sifan Hassan for silver was very cool indeed.”

Another big motivator was the performance of Keely Hodgkinson, who won silver in the 800m at the age of 19. The English teenager visited Kerr and fellow 1500m runners Jake Wightman and Jake Heyward in Tokyo and the Scot admitted it was a moment which made him realise how tangible the prospect of winning a medal was.

“Everyone reacts in a different way to a team-mate or someone in your group having some success,” said Kerr. “You do tend to look at it and think ‘that’s what I want to be going through’.

“Keely came back to our apartment and I think myself and two Jakes were playing pool or something like that. Keely hung out with us for a while and had her medal with her. It was a big ‘respect’ moment.

“But I had to take myself away from it after a bit because you can get too excited about what someone else has achieved. That’s not why you are there.

“I was delighted for Keely, of course, and then also for Laura Muir – although Laura’s final was the night before ours so we didn’t cross paths much at all and she had a lot of media to do the following day.

“But they were both very big motivators to say ‘this is possible’. Seeing Keely made it very realistic.”

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