7th August 2021
JOSH KERR EARNS MEMORABLE 1500M BRONZE IN TOKYO
Josh Kerr rounded out Team GB’s final night on the track with a brilliant 1500m bronze medal and a personal best at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium.
Team GB have plenty of history in the men’s 1500m, with their five Olympic golds more than any other nation and five of the nine podium places during the Games of the 1980s taken by Brits.
However, it had been 33 years since a British man last climbed the Olympic podium in the event and 23-year-old Scotsman Kerr (coach: Danny Mackey, club: Edinburgh) now joins legendary names such as Coe, Ovett, Cram and Elliott, after he crossed the line third behind Jakob Ingebrigtsen (NOR), who clocked an Olympic record time, and Timothy Cheruiyot (KEN).
In a race run at a lightning pace, Kerr moved into the top five at the bell and stormed past Kenya’s Abel Kipsang down the home straight before almost overhauling his compatriot Cheruiyot for silver.
Kerr’s time of 3:29.05 knocked a mammoth 2.5 seconds off his personal best, was just 0.24s outside Mo Farah’s British record time and was the second-fastest metric mile run by a British man in history.
Kerr’s Olympics were almost over in the heats when he finished seventh in his race, only to qualify as a fastest loser, and he has made the most of that chance to remarkably win Team GB’s sixth athletics medal of Tokyo 2020.
“I’m blown away,” he said. “This has been a hard Championships for me, the first run wasn’t great, it was one of those days and you can have those. Sadly, mine was the first round of the Olympics.
“I had to go back, think about it, recalibrate and come back to these next rounds fighting for every single step. I feel like you saw that today, you saw that in the semi-final and I’m really happy with that performance.
“I have this weird confidence in myself. Some may call it cockiness, some may call it general confidence.
“When you put the effort in and you’re surrounded by a team like I am, you can’t not feel confidence every step of the way.”
Kerr was one of three Brits in the final alongside Jake Heyward (Mark Rowland, Cardiff) and Jake Wightman (Geoff Wightman, Edinburgh).
Wightman went out hard and put himself towards the front of the pack at the halfway mark but eventually finished tenth in a time of 3:35.09, with Heyward, who ran a consistent race, coming ninth – 0.66s ahead of his countryman.
Meanwhile, an enthralling women’s 10,000m final saw Eilish McColgan (Liz Nuttall, Dundee Hawkhill) finish 10th, while Jess Judd (Mick Judd, Blackburn) crossed the line in 18th as Sifan Hassan (NED) won her second gold of the Games, adding to her 5000m crown.
With the intense heat and humidity in Tokyo combining with a fast pace set by the leaders, the race very quickly strung out and McColgan did well to stay with the front group until the 4km mark.
Even once she fell off the back of the lead group, the Scot stuck to her task and secured a place in the top ten, her best finish in an Olympic final, at her third Games.
“It was tough, definitely one of the toughest races I’ve run, so I’m proud of myself for finishing,” said McColgan, who clocked an impressive time of 31:04.46, less than six seconds outside her PB.
“There were definitely points where I didn’t think I was going to make it, but I think mentally for me I just wanted to have a better race than I did in the 5k.
“I would’ve loved to have dipped under 31 minutes, so a little disappointed to not have had my eye on running my mum’s Scottish record.
“I would’ve loved to have sneaked under that and got a PB, but in those conditions I can’t ask for anything more.”
Judd’s time was 31:56.80 as the heat took its toll on the Blackburn Harrier and she had to be helped off the track after the conclusion of the race, although confirmed there was no lasting damage in post-race interviews.
“It was just so hard,” she admitted. “I felt like I was doing the right thing at every point and then I don’t know, it just got even harder, and with 2k to go I just thought I’ve just got to finish.
“The hardest race I’ve ever done. I didn’t think I was going to get round, but I did, which is good.”
The final British track action of Tokyo 2020 saw the women’s 4x400m relay squad race hard and earn themselves a fifth-place finish.
Ama Pipi (Linford Christie, Enfield and Haringey) led out the quartet and individual 400m finalist Jodie Williams (Ryan Freckleton, Herts Phoenix) then moved GB up to fifth with a strong second leg.
Emily Diamond (Benke Blomkvist, Bristol and West) kept the team within striking distance of Canada and Jamaica ahead but Nicole Yeargin (Quincy Watts, Pitreavie) could not quite close the gap on the anchor leg, crossing the line in a time of 3:22.59.
USA dominated the race and took gold by 3.68s from the Polish quartet, who ran a national record, in silver and Jamaica in bronze.
Morgan Lake (Fuzz Caan, Windsor Slough Eton and Hounslow) was due to compete in the women’s high jump final but had to withdraw through injury.
During the successful qualification round, where she cleared the automatic qualification height of 1.95m – an outdoor season’s best – and placed seventh, Lake sustained a foot injury that was unable to be resolved in time for the final.
The British medal tally in Athletics:
Keely Hodgkinson – Women’s 800m
Laura Muir – Women’s 1500m
Men’s 4x100m Relay (CJ Ujah, Zharnel Hughes, Richard Kilty and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake)
Holly Bradshaw – Women’s Pole Vault
Josh Kerr – Men’s 1500m
Women’s 4x100m Relay (Asha Philip, Imani-Lara Lansiquot, Dina Asher-Smith and Daryll Neita)