World Indoor Athletics Championships 2024: Josh Kerr, Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie fly flag for Scotland in Glasgow

Three days of top-class athletics come to Glasgow – and there are home medal hopes

Josh Kerr has never lacked for confidence and backing up global outdoor dominance with golden indoor success in Glasgow might be just the recipe for Olympic glory.

That is the view of Scottish middle distance great Tom McKean, a world and European indoor champion in his own right.

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Edinburgh-born Kerr, who trains in the States having honed his craft on the American collegiate scene, became Britain’s first Olympic men’s 1500m medallist for 33 years in Tokyo. Then last year, he claimed his biggest title to date – overhauling the great Jakob Ingebrigtsen to take World Championship gold in Budapest. In doing so, he matched the achievements of compatriot Jake Wightman, who had also shocked the Norwegian a year earlier.

Josh Kerr is one of the Scottish athletes on show in Glasgow.Josh Kerr is one of the Scottish athletes on show in Glasgow.
Josh Kerr is one of the Scottish athletes on show in Glasgow.

It leaves Great Britain with a level of middle-distance contenders not seen since the golden era of Seb Coe and Steve Ovett in the 1980s – with McKean one of those who used to try to challenge the pair. Watching Kerr, who will compete in the 3000m at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Glasgow which starts on Friday, McKean is confident that success at the Commonwealth Arena can be the launchpad in the biggest season of his career.

Comparing Kerr and Wightman, McKean said: “You’ve got two different kinds of athletes, Josh is that typical American collegiate, he’ll talk bravado and backs it up a lot of the time. Kerr can run and run and run, the belief in America is totally different to British belief but the fact that Jake did it (World Champs 2022) made Kerr think ‘well, if he can do it then I can do it.’

“They’ve always been two very talented boys, they’re using the talent they’ve got to the best of their abilities and it’ll bring them a lot of rewards. Josh is riding the crest of a wave, he’s run a 61-minute half marathon and Ingebrigtsen is injured at the moment so who knows what that will bring as well but it’s an exciting time.

“For me, when training was going really well, it’s funny when you have that belief it’s almost as if time slows down and you’ve got so much time to think about things. People try and do something and you think, ‘is that all you’ve got?’, it’s an amazing feeling. As long as you’ve got that constant then you can move forward with it, if you’re in that right frame of mind then anything is possible.

Laura Muir is also flying the Scottish flag.Laura Muir is also flying the Scottish flag.
Laura Muir is also flying the Scottish flag.

“The good thing about an indoor season is, to make it a short season, you can just have a quick peak and go away. It can be a big confidence booster simply because you’ve done all the hard work in the winter, you’ve taken your foot off the pedal just so you can see how you’re going.”

With both Wightman and Ingebrigtsen absent in Glasgow, the indoors will be a chance for Kerr to build on his Budapest success. Fresh from setting a new world best over two miles, Kerr will take on reigning world indoor champion Selemon Barega of Ethiopia and USA’s Yared Nuguse, fifth in the Budapest final. But for the long-term Olympic goal, McKean warned that Kerr should not focus too much on Ingebrigtsen – with a recent exchange of disparaging interviews indicating that there is no love lost between the pair.

McKean added: “He’s very focused on Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Jake Wightman is quieter, but I’m a worrier for Josh as he’s too focused on Ingebrigtsen and I’d be more worried about Jake’s sprint speed.”

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It is not just the men’s middle-distance that will capture the attention in Glasgow, with Laura Muir and Jemma Reekie both contending on the women’s side. Muir won 1500m silver and 3000m bronze at this event in Birmingham back in 2018, and will attempt to complete the set in the latter event. She faces tough competition to make the podium, with Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay, the 1500m indoor world record holder, the favourite for 3000m victory.

“The British crowd are always so supportive, but Glasgow takes it to another level," said Muir. "I will have so many friends and family there and I've trained on that track for the majority of my career. It's a very special place to me. It will be surreal competing at a global championships in Scotland – it's a once in a lifetime opportunity and thankfully it fits into the plan for Paris. I just want to run as best I can. I'm trying to keep things into perspective as it is Olympic year and that's the big focus, but this is a massive stepping stone. I want to show my best in front of some of the best in the world."

Reekie, meanwhile, will race over 800m, coming into the event in flying form. The 25-year-old won the Lievin World Athletics Indoor Tour Gold event before breaking the Championship record on her way to taking UK Indoor gold in Birmingham earlier this month. She did so in the second fastest time in the world this year and the Kilbarchan runner will now target a first major senior medal in Glasgow. In the absence of compatriot Keely Hodgkinson, Reekie’s closest rivals will be Olympic sixth-placer Habitam Alemu and seasoned Jamaican Natoya Goule-Toppin. Keep an eye out for Ethiopian bolter Tsige Duguma, too, who turned heads with a recent front-running victory in Belgrade in a time of 1:59.66.

“I’m really excited,” said Reekie. “I want to win so badly in front of Glasgow. It’s been a long time coming. I’ll take a world medal of any colour but I’m aiming for top step. My training environment has been amazing. Sally (Gunnell) has been helping me mentally and the team at British Athletics have been fantastic, they’ve helped me get back to the Jemma we knew.”

The world’s best athletes head to Scotland for the World Athletics Indoor Championships Glasgow 24 from 1-3 March and you can keep up to date with the latest on the World Athletics website, its associated platforms and via broadcasters around the world.