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Kerr Visualises Toppling Olympic Gold Medallist Ingebrigtsen In Paris Duel

There are precisely 200 days to go before the gun sounds for the Olympic men’s 1500m final in Paris on 6 August. But Josh Kerr has already visualised himself on the track at the Stade de France, revelling in the noise and expectation as he lines up in his distinctive shades. In fact he even has down how the three minutes and 28 seconds of the race will then pan out, culminating in what he hopes will be an Olympic gold medal.

“I’ve already written out my tactics and I know what I am doing in Paris,” says Kerr. “It’s one of those things for me: I am very good at that one day, and peaking at the right time. A lot of that is race analysis, and going through the different emotions of what may or might not happen. But I know what I will be doing that day.”

Cocky? Hardly. In a world where many athletes rarely stray beyond bland platitudes and talk of executing races, the 26-year-old Scot is determined to be authentic and interesting. So when talk turns to his great rival, Jakob Ingebrigtsen, who he beat to gold in a world championship thriller in Budapest last year, Kerr doesn’t pull his punches.

Asked about his recent comments about the Norwegian having a “high ego” and being surrounded by “yes men” – which went viral on the popular running site Let’s Run – Kerr makes clear that there is respect and antipathy.

“I’ve said it multiple times: he’s very dedicated and he’s amazing at our sport,” he says. “He also wants to be the best in the world and so I do, and that’s going to make us clash 10 times out of 10. I’ll always have respect for his performances. I was merely pointing out that he has flaws, and I don’t think he knew that.

“Myself and Jake Wightman have shown where those flaws are,” he continues, pointing towards how the Norwegian has struggled more in 1500m championship races without a pacer. “And I think he has some flaws in the manners realm as well. I’m not saying I’m a better time-trailer than him, because I don’t know if I am. But I think come championship day, I am the best athlete in the world. And no Let’s Run article is going to tell me otherwise.”

Have he and Jakob ever shared any small talk? “I’ve spoken to him quite a bit in Saint Moritz down at the track but that was before this summer,” Kerr responds. “So I can’t imagine we’ll be having many more conversations.”

Meanwhile Kerr believes that he could be joined on the podium by Wightman, with the pair reviving the glory days of Seb Coe and Steve Ovett in Moscow and Los Angeles back in the 1980s.“It’s a massive possibility,” Kerr insists. “It sounds like he’s doing really well after his injury and I’m really looking forward to seeing him back at full flight.”

Kerr won a world championship thriller last year in Budapest. Photograph: Ashley Landis/APBefore that though, Kerr will go for the world indoor two-mile record at the Millrose Games next month. To give added spice, that record of 8min 3.4sec is held by Mo Farah.

“I definitely called my shot at it pretty early but preparations are going very well,” says Kerr, who is one of more than a 1,000 athletes on UK Sport’s National Lottery-funded world class programme. “That’s what is keeping me honest in terms of mileage, quality sessions, sleep and nutrition.”

Such was Kerr’s determination to break his first world record, he ran twice on Christmas Day despite feeling a little worse for wear. “I did a double run as it was on the schedule,” he says. “Eight miles in the morning and three at night after Christmas dinner. Those three were tough, I am not going to lie. I was definitely coming in a couple of pounds heavier.”

And Kerr says he might then compete at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow in March after UK Athletics changed their policy to allow world medallists to skip the trials.

“There are lots of factors involved and that’s why we’re taking so long,” explains Kerr. “The two-mile record is the focus right now. But I am not scared to race anyone. It’s just that my body is not always great on tight bends. However, not having to run three races at trials makes a big difference and I’m trying to convince my coaching team.”

Kerr also insists that success hasn’t changed him – although the financial rewards from Budapest has allowed him to employ a full-time chef and the respected PR agency Forte.

“But you have got to keep your head down and keep working,” he says. “Because you can get found out pretty quickly if you enjoy your success too much.”

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