National middle-distance champion is going from strength to strength

After taking the 1500m and 3000m double at the England Athletics Under-17 Championships this summer, Josh Kerr has set his sights on improving his endurance through cross country.

“I was absolutely delighted with the double at the England Championships,” the 17-year-old says. “I knew my best chance was in the 1500m but I entered both events. I was able to tuck in, take it on with 400m to go and kick on to the win.

“It has to be the highlight of my season,” adds the Edinburgh athlete, who broke Glen Stewart’s 27-year-old Scottish record in the race.

But Josh has enjoyed plenty of other high points this season. These range from winning the SIAB Schools’ International 1500m, Sainsbury’s School Games 1500m and gaining the 800m and 1500m double at the Scottish Schools, as well as improving his times to 1:53.80 for 800m, 3:52.46 for 1500m and 8:35.15 for 3000m – the metric mile time placing him first in the UK under-17 rankings for 2014.

On Saturday, Josh was also named the Under-17 Athlete of the Year at the Scottish Athletics awards, receiving the honour ahead of fellow nominees George Evans, Maria Lyle, Lewis McGuire and Alisha Rees.

Reflecting on his success, Josh says: “I knew it was going to be a good season because I had put the hard work in through the winter and it was all about being a good racer. I had really wanted all three British titles, so I was pleased to achieve that.”

Looking ahead, Josh’s first focus is to win the British Athletics Cross Challenge this winter, which starts with the European Trials in Liverpool and ends with the Inter-Counties in Birmingham in March. Clearly possessing a mature head on his young shoulders, he explains: “The winter will be my base for track season and I want to get some good mileage in to set me up well for the under-20 age group in 2015.”

Josh credits the people around him for the role they play in his success. “I have a great training set up at the moment,” he explains. “My coaches are Dave Campbell and Terry O’Hare, I have some brilliant training partners, my mother is a physiotherapist and my dad helps me with the mental side of the training and racing. I also have the support of Team Red Sky, who mentor me and are pushing me on to better things.”

The youngster trains every day, with his favourite session being a Thursday track session. “This is normally the speedy stuff. For example, I might do three sets of 3x400m with 90 seconds between reps and 5 minutes between sets,” he reveals.

Josh first got into athletics when he was nine and attended a training camp at Meadowbank Stadium. A coach from Edinburgh AC spotted Josh and his brother and invited them to join the middle-distance group. Josh was motivated by trying to beat his older brother Jake in the early days, but Jake moved to rugby while Josh continued with athletics.

Now in his final year of school at George Watson’s College in Edinburgh, Josh is unsure of his plans after he finishes school and is still considering what would be the right decision to further his running and education. He says philosophically: “I feel running has opened so many doors for me for the future and given me so many opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I have had some brilliant experiences so far and I am excited where it will take me in the future.”

You can find further performance stats on Josh on Power of 10 here.

» Support young athletes via the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund, see rpmf.org.uk