World 1,500 metres champion Josh Kerr concedes athletics’ entertainment value has “fallen behind” other sports.

The 26-year-old Scottish athlete stunned overwhelming favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen at August’s World Championships and now has his sights set on upgrading his Tokyo 2020 bronze at this summer’s Olympics in Paris.

Many remain concerned that athletics is falling out of favour with the British public, a predicament exacerbated by broadcast and sponsorship challenges and backed by evidence suggesting younger audiences are looking elsewhere.

Kerr told the PA news agency: “I would say we are doing what we can in terms of entertainment from an athlete’s perspective. We’re trying to create more rivalries. We’re trying to create more storylines, which I think we are doing better at, but we are a little bit behind other sports.

“A lot of it is about TV deals but I don’t really have much say or much knowledge of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“If I’m allowed to be in any of those meetings maybe I can have more of a say but right now I’m going to keep trying to make entertaining races and hopefully get good build-up and make people watch.

“That’s the best I can do right now. I’m not sitting here complaining about the viewership of our sport. I think sometimes you get what you deserve in terms of viewership, and if our sport isn’t exciting enough maybe some things need to change.”

UK Athletics (UKA) lost Muller, their title sponsor, in 2022 and failed to renegotiate a reported £3million-a-year broadcast deal with the BBC when it expired in 2020.

UKA has since secured shorter, multi-platform deals with the broadcaster, including its 2023 major events series, while the BBC in 2021 extended its agreement with World Athletics for five more world championships and also holds the rights to the Paris Olympics and Diamond League through 2024.

Some competitions have been shown live on BBC TV, but others have featured only on iPlayer, Red Button or the BBC’s website and app, sparking fears that a lack of visibility on flagship channels will contribute to a decline in athletics’ relevance – which some numbers suggest is a genuine concern.

The 2023 EY Sports Engagement Index, which considers both participation and how Britons engage with sports live, on TV and online, revealed that while athletics still cracked the overall UK top-20, placing 15th, it did not feature in the top-20 for the coveted Gen Z (18-24) demographic, who prefer basketball, boxing, MMA, and even badminton – although “running” fared better.

Kerr, who tries to treat the Olympics as “a regular day at the office”  has embraced his growing celebrity largely because it allows him to give young athletes “access to the information that’s needed for them to achieve their goals and dreams”.

His own ambitions are clear.

Ingebrigtsen walked away with gold in Tokyo, but the Norwegian was beaten by Britons in back-to-back world 1,500m championships, Kerr succeeding compatriot Jake Wightman, who sat out 2023 with a foot injury but is set to kick-start his comeback at February’s Maurie Plant Meet in Melbourne.

A potential Stade de France Olympic final featuring the three most recent world champions feels poised to become precisely the sort of must-watch TV storyline Kerr and his rivals are trying to write.

He added: “I am going to be in a position to be available for that medal.

“Everything changes every day. I might not be in this sport tomorrow. No one knows what is going to happen, so that’s my big goal. If someone says that’s cocky, that’s completely fine with me.

“They evidently don’t know me, and they don’t know what it takes to be an Olympic champion. That’s what I set in my brain. That’s the goal. Go out and get it, and if you can’t it’s OK.”

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Athletics world champion Josh Kerr intends to use his disappointment at not being shortlisted for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award as “big motivation” going into the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The 26-year-old Scot won the 1500m title at the World Championships in August after finishing ahead of favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen in Budapest, an achievement which many thought would earn him a place on the SPOTY list, including World Athletics president Lord Coe.

The list of nominees which was announced on Tuesday included former cricketer Stuart Broad, jockey Frankie Dettori, footballer Mary Earps, wheelchair tennis player Alfie Hewett, golfer Rory McIlroy and Kerr’s fellow athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

Kerr admitted he was “massively disappointed” at not being on the list but thinks it will drive him on to turn the bronze he earned at Tokyo 2020 into a gold in Paris 2024.

He said: “I’ve been honoured in many different ways by a lot of fantastic people but we always think about the ones we didn’t get so it’s big motivation for me.

“Obviously massively disappointed, it’s such a prestigious event and award that I would loved to have been involved in.

“There’s nothing I can do. We are in a cut and dry sport – not a lot of things in my career have been up to other people’s judgement and I’ve always been taught to leave no doubt and obviously I left an element of doubt.

“I’m an Olympic bronze medallist and I’m going to go after that gold medal. I’ve earned everything I got in my career to this point and I’m going to earn the right to be in that conversation and I’ll show that through my performance and mental resilience.”

Team GB team-mate Johnson-Thompson also brought home a gold medal from the 2023 World Championships when a second-placed finish in the 800 metres guaranteed her heptathlon gold.

Kerr had already planned to attend the BBC event but now says he will go and support Johnson-Thompson to win the award ahead of a big year for the sport.

He added: “I will be there to represent athletics but KJT (Johnson-Thompson) had such an amazing comeback from 2019 and I think we are all proud to be there to support her.

“I’m not sitting crying about it, I’m getting out the door and start working for next year but I’ll be there to support her and that’s my job now.

“I was someone that brought a gold medal home for Britain and so was she. I’m excited in supporting her in hopefully winning this next week.

“I was hoping to get my flights covered if I’m honest but I don’t think that’s quite covered this time – I was hoping to be on that shortlist but I’m not, I’m still going to enjoy that experience.”

Kerr’s attention now switches to the Paris Games where he will look to earn another gold medal next August, and can take huge confidence from his win in Budapest after beating Tokyo Olympic gold medallist Ingebrigtsen of Norway to the world title.

He said: “I known I’ve always had the capabilities of being the best in the world but having the ability to do it and not just say I’m good enough… I’ve been in all these finals and not quite been able to do it so it’s nice to have one in the bag knowing my mind and body are capable of that big moment.

“I’m thinking like a champion and my life is getting structured like a world champion so instead of thinking I’m good enough, I’m just going to be on that roadmap to success!

“I’ve had this Olympic circle for a long time and I knew at age 26 I will be at the peak of my career in the 1500m and this would be the one so I’m excited to continue that dream.”

New world champion Josh Kerr knew he would break Jakob Ingebrigtsen as he stormed to 1500 metres gold and revealed he played mind games with the Norwegian.

The Scot clocked three minutes and 29.38 seconds to stun Ingebrigtsen, forcing the overwhelming favourite to settle for silver at the World Championships in Budapest.

Kerr emulated Jake Wightman’s win in Eugene last year and, with the injured Wightman missing in Hungary, Ingebrigtsen – second in 2022 – was denied the world crown again.

“I felt him break and I just needed to stay strong,” said Kerr, who adds to his Olympics bronze.

“I was looking up at the screen making sure no one was coming on my outside but with 50m to go I knew I had it.

“I felt there was a slight weakness with 200m to go, I had to be in lane two for a minute but I’m going to fight all the way to the end, regardless whether I broke him or not.

“I’ve been in four major championship finals and come away with only a bronze. I knew it was my turn. When you’re the underdog you have to come and take what’s yours, you’re not handed anything. It was about going there and taking what’s mine.”

Kerr, fifth last year, admitted he tried to psyche Ingebrigtsen out on Wednesday after wearing a similar vest to the one Wightman wore in Eugene.

“I’m not saying I wore the specific one to bring back some nightmares but I needed every single ounce I had. This was the vest I chose,” he added.

Wightman, watching from the BBC studio at the National Athletics Centre, labelled his Edinburgh AC club-mate the Terminator after victory.

“I like it (the Terminator nickname), back-to-back world champions, it’s not something anyone has ever done before,” said Kerr.

“Especially in back-to-back years because it’s not been possible. Great Britain has something in the water. We have to keep producing world champions.”

Ingebrigtsen made his move inside the final lap, only for Kerr to retaliate with around 200m remaining – almost a carbon copy of Wightman’s win in America.

Ingebrigtsen was unable to fight back down the final straight as Kerr held off his challenge to win his first major global title.

The 25-year-old, who trains in Seattle, also revealed he cuts off communication in the build up to the Championships to focus on his goal.

“I don’t have my phone for about two weeks beforehand. Only about eight people or so,” he said. “I’m not a big social media guy when it comes to World Champs.

“You just have to have belief in yourself. My fiancee has my phone if anything big comes up, I have my other phone for the people who are massively important in this process.

“It’s been the same phone since 2021, it’s about making sure I’m focusing on the plan. All I have is the Premier League app, which I’m doing incredibly well on, and Duolingo as I’m trying to learn Spanish.”

Wightman, who has been forced to miss the Championships with a foot problem, saluted Kerr.

“Our little club in Edinburgh has had two back-to-back world champions,” he said.

“That’s hard to believe. Jakob Ingebrigtsen is going to start hating us Brits ain’t he? I think Josh Kerr knew what to do there. You saw when he came on Jakob’s shoulder.

“He showed so much promise for so long, that medal in Tokyo was just the start of this. When Josh Kerr gets it right and when he’s running well, he absolutely flies. I think Ingebrigtsen underestimated how well he was running at the moment.”

Ingebrigtsen said he had a sore throat this week and was feeling “not good”, adding: “I just wasn’t good enough.”

Asked how he views Kerr as a global rival now, he added: “It’s totally different. We have been competitors for a long time, he is a great runner but it is what it is.”

Neil Gourley, who finished ninth in the final, said: “I am really happy for Josh, I could tell this was coming, I knew he would be right up there, the margins are fine at this level.

“I knew he would give Jakob a run for his money this week. The way he has carried himself, the way he has been looking, he has been full of confidence.”

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s Molly Caudery finished fifth in the pole vault, victory shared by Australia’s Nina Kennedy and the USA’s Katie Moon, with a personal best of 4.75m, while Karsten Warholm took the 400m hurdles title.

Josh Kerr became world 1500m champion in Budapest on Wednesday after stunning favourite Jakob Ingebrigtsen.

He follows British team-mate Jake Wightman, who won in Eugene last year, and here the PA news agency looks at the new golden boy.

Chasing the dream

He left home in Edinburgh at 17 and moved to the US to attend the University of New Mexico, in Albuquerque.

After turning professional in 2018 he signed with Brooks having turned down a deal with Nike and Kerr now trains in Seattle with the Brooks Beasts club and is coached by Danny Mackey.

His win also keeps the 1500m title at Edinburgh Athletic Club after Wightman’s triumph last year.

A sporting family

Kerr comes from a sporting background with his dad John a former professional rugby player and mum Jill a keen golfer.

His older brother Jake was a hooker for Bristol Bears having joined from Leicester Tigers in 2021.

Jake has one cap for Scotland, in the 2019 Six Nations against Italy, and left the Bears this summer.

Sunglasses sponsorship

Kerr has a sponsorship deal with Oakley sunglasses which rarely sees him racing without a pair.

Last year at the World Championships he wore a pair of £250 gold Oakley sunglasses, although he struggled to fifth in the final.

This year his glasses had more of a bronze tinge but he went onto win gold.

Olympic track star

Kerr was Team GB’s only male track and field medallist at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago.

He battled to 1500m bronze, running three minutes 29.05 seconds which was a new personal best.

Ingebrigtsen took the title back then but has since been beaten twice by British stars at the Worlds.

Meditation

 

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Kerr works with a mindfulness coach to ensure he is in the right frame of mind to compete and train.

 

He starts his day with 10 minutes of meditation and writing in his training diary to clear his mind and he also hired a chef ahead of the World Championships.

“At this point, I work extremely hard. We’re very strict with diet, sleep, training, and all this stuff,” he said. “How can we unlock the fitness more than anyone else can?”

New world champion Josh Kerr knew he would break Jakob Ingebrigtsen as he stormed to 1500 metres gold and revealed he played mind games with the Norwegian.

The Scot clocked three minutes and 29.38 seconds to stun Ingebrigtsen, forcing the overwhelming favourite to settle for silver at the World Championships in Budapest.

Kerr emulated Jake Wightman’s win in Eugene last year and, with the injured Wightman missing in Hungary, Ingebrigtsen – second in 2022 – was denied the world crown again.

“I felt him break and I just needed to stay strong,” said Kerr, who adds to his Olympics bronze.

“I was looking up at the screen making sure no one was coming on my outside but with 50m to go I knew I had it.

“I felt there was a slight weakness with 200m to go, I had to be in lane two for a minute but I’m going to fight all the way to the end, regardless whether I broke him or not.

“I’ve been in four major championship finals and come away with only a bronze. I knew it was my turn. When you’re the underdog you have to come and take what’s yours, you’re not handed anything. It was about going there and taking what’s mine.”

Kerr, fifth last year, admitted he tried to psyche Ingebrigtsen out on Wednesday after wearing a similar vest to the one Wightman wore in Eugene.

“I’m not saying I wore the specific one to bring back some nightmares but I needed every single ounce I had. This was the vest I chose,” he added.

Wightman, watching from the BBC studio at the National Athletics Centre, labelled his Edinburgh AC club-mate the Terminator after victory.

“I like it (the Terminator nickname), back-to-back world champions, it’s not something anyone has ever done before,” said Kerr.

“Especially in back-to-back years because it’s not been possible. Great Britain has something in the water. We have to keep producing world champions.”

Ingebrigtsen made his move inside the final lap, only for Kerr to retaliate with around 200m remaining – almost a carbon copy of Wightman’s win in America.

Ingebrigtsen was unable to fight back down the final straight as Kerr held off his challenge to win his first major global title.

The 25-year-old, who trains in Seattle, also revealed he cuts off communication in the build up to the Championships to focus on his goal.

“I don’t have my phone for about two weeks beforehand. Only about eight people or so,” he said. “I’m not a big social media guy when it comes to World Champs.

“You just have to have belief in yourself. My fiancee has my phone if anything big comes up, I have my other phone for the people who are massively important in this process.

“It’s been the same phone since 2021, it’s about making sure I’m focusing on the plan. All I have is the Premier League app, which I’m doing incredibly well on, and Duolingo as I’m trying to learn Spanish.”

Wightman, who has been forced to miss the Championships with a foot problem, saluted Kerr.

“Our little club in Edinburgh has had two back-to-back world champions,” he said.

“That’s hard to believe. Jakob Ingebrigtsen is going to start hating us Brits ain’t he? I think Josh Kerr knew what to do there. You saw when he came on Jakob’s shoulder.

“He showed so much promise for so long, that medal in Tokyo was just the start of this. When Josh Kerr gets it right and when he’s running well, he absolutely flies. I think Ingebrigtsen underestimated how well he was running at the moment.”

Ingebrigtsen said he had a sore throat this week and was feeling “not good”, adding: “I just wasn’t good enough.”

Asked how he views Kerr as a global rival now, he added: “It’s totally different. We have been competitors for a long time, he is a great runner but it is what it is.”

Neil Gourley, who finished ninth in the final, said: “I am really happy for Josh, I could tell this was coming, I knew he would be right up there, the margins are fine at this level.

“I knew he would give Jakob a run for his money this week. The way he has carried himself, the way he has been looking, he has been full of confidence.”

Meanwhile, Great Britain’s Molly Caudery finished fifth in the pole vault, victory shared by Australia’s Nina Kennedy and the USA’s Katie Moon, with a personal best of 4.75m, while Karsten Warholm took the 400m hurdles title.

Great Britain’s Josh Kerr stunned Jakob Ingebrigtsen to take the 1500m title in style at the World Championships.

The Scot clocked three minutes 29.38 seconds to win a massive battle with Ingebrigtsen, who came second, over the final 300m.

He emulated Jake Wightman’s win in Eugene last year, with Wightman missing through injury this year, to deny Norway’s Ingebrigtsen – who also had to settle for silver in 2022 – the world crown again.

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