Saturday night fever and why Josh always waves flag for Scotland

Sunday 3rd March 2024

Photo by Bobby Gavin

Golden moment: Josh wins World Indoors title as Laura finishes fifth

For Josh Kerr and a home crowd it was a clear case of ‘third time lucky’. Except, of course, there’s very little lucky about it (only years of hard work in training).

When he arrived back in Scotland last week to prepare for the World Indoors over 3000m, the World 1500m champion made it palin he felt he owed his British and Scottish public a top ‘in person’ performance.

Picked for his first Senior international championships with GB and NI at an early age, he went into London 2017 full of confidence.

Making the final was definitely a target. As it transpired, Josh didn’t make it out of the heats.

Five years later and with an Olympic bronze medal to his name, the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham offered an opportunity to wear the Scotland vest and demonstrate the skills honed in America.

Josh hadn’t had the best of World Champs in Oregon – when Jake Wightman took gold – and it was a similar story in the Alexander Stadium as he faded to a disappointing 12th place in the final in front of family and friends.

Those bad memories were erased inside eight minutes at the Emirates Arena in front of a crowd struck down by Saturday night fever.

‘Running well in front of a home crowd was a big motivation for being here,’ he said.

‘I am finally at a point in my career where I am going after championship gold medals and it has taken so many years to do that.

‘So after stepping on the world stage at London 2017 and having a tough 2022 I have thankfully been able to push through and improve even more. I’ve become the athlete that I wanted to be.

‘I’ve kept my head down – OK, I would admit I’ve done a bit of chatting – but I wanted to do something special for a home crowd.

‘I did have to be careful not to get caught up in the emotion of it all but the noise and the support for me is the best I’ve ever heard. Into the final lap and I did just let the heart take over and run off that emotion.’

Josh can certainly be described as a student of athletics and he was aware of becoming the first Scot to win an World Indoors title since Canada in 1993 when both Yvonne Murray and Tom McKean won gold.

‘I’ve grown up hearing those names and learning about their fine performance so it is nice to follow in their footsteps.’

Tom McKean won the Men’s 800m title at the World Indoors in Toronto in 1993 (photo by Mark Shearman)


Josh learned his race craft on the American collegiate scene and he won titles and records at NCAA level as a portent of what was to follow.

But there’s simply no dispute that his career was forged in Scotland via Edinburgh AC as he came through the pathway for athletics in Scotland.

He’s been vocal about the need to save Grangemouth Stadium and referenced many early year races at the Emirates. In short, Josh is passionate – and serious – about development.

‘It’s our job (to inspire young athletes),’ he said.

‘We need to run back to our club, go back to our school and show people what is possible. We need to be a resource for people and say ‘this is my journey, this is my path’ and show that others can follow that.

‘Coming up through athletics in Scotland was great for me and I’m always happy to stress the point that the pathway is there.’


This piece in PB magazine by John Lenehan charts quite superbly the Josh Kerr pathway at Edinburgh AC 

Success for Josh(or Jake) always seems to open up a debate about moving to the United States. Which is unfortunate because, as we explored in PB magazine above, he was clearly ‘forged’ in Edinburgh.

Here are a few questions to ponder for those who somehow think our top sports stars are obliged to ‘stay in Scotland’.

Did Kenny Dalglish not play for Liverpool?

Did Andy Murray not move to Barcelona for training at 14 or 15?

Did Finn Russell not move to Paris and Bath?

Where is the rule which says young sports stars, or wannabe sports stars, can’t move away in the same way a lawyer or a doctor or an estate agent can accept a job offer from England or America?

There is no such rule and in 2024 the world is a far smaller place these days.

Of course, what is key is that Scotland retains the facilities and the pathway to create an opportunity for world class athletes to emerge.

Be assured, the work towards that is something athletics in Scotland tackles every day of the week be that via governing body staff, volunteer coaches, club folk or our dedicated Officials.


Josh chats to Bryan Burnett in the stadium (photo by Bobby Gavin)

It’s hard to explain the nuances of the human zoo that is the ‘Mixed Zone’ at major championships.

This is where star athletes are led through a posse of media interview opportunities still in their kit or draped in their country’s flag.

For a global event like the World Indoors, it can be a busy place and long waits are commonplace – especially when athletes can be whisked off for medal ceremony before coming back to complete their duties.

Josh Kerr (and Laura Muir) are class acts in this regard, with a keen sense of their responsibilities. And Josh, it seems, even knows his Women’s Pole Vault.

He was asked breathlessly by a radio interviewer about fellow Brit Molly Caudery’s gold . . .

‘I was aware it was on-going when we were warming up and racing – so it’s brilliant Molly won gold. She has been in superb form in recent weeks but the World Lead brings a level of expectation and she has handled that, too.

‘I can’t wait to get back to the hotel and watch a recap of the pole vault competition and see Molly’s big jumps. That’s what being a team is about and we feed off each other.’

Caudery, incidentally, didn’t forget her manners in the Zone, either. As she passed those in Scottish Athletics kit, she said: ‘Thanks, Glasgow.‘ You are welcome, Molly.

Josh Kerr, team player, pole vault expert and all-round brilliant ‘talker’.

Perhaps he could go on the Beeb . . .

Tags: Edinburgh AC, Josh Kerr, Laura Muir, World Indoors 2024

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