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Monday, May 29, 2023

Fred Kerley: World 100m champion on aiming for double gold, Lamont Marcell Jacobs and athletics’ future

Fred Kerley
Fred Kerley is one among solely three males to run beneath 10, 20 and 44 seconds for the 100m, 200m and 400m respectively – together with Michael Norman and Wayde van Niekerk

It is not the way you begin, it is the way you end.

That was definitely true when Fred Kerley chased down the sector to say victory over 200m in final week’s Diamond League opener in Doha.

It additionally epitomises the world 100m champion’s private story.

By his personal admission, the 27-year-old’s childhood was “tough”.

Adopted by his Auntie, Kerley grew up within the small metropolis of Taylor, close to Austin, Texas, in a home with 13 youngsters dwelling beneath one roof.

“I’ve all the time been operating for one thing greater than myself,” Kerley tells BBC Sport.

“Every day is a blessing. I do know I must work, and work, and work, it doesn’t matter what.”

It’s that mindset which ensured he may overcome his humble beginnings and attain the highest step of a world podium.

“I do not need anybody in my family having to fret about the place the subsequent meal is coming from, like I did,” Kerley says.

“I do know in my footsteps proper now individuals have my background however they do not haven’t any outlet for themselves.”

He provides: “Hopefully I will be an instance that you may carry on going it doesn’t matter what.”

Kerley embodied that in a literal sense in Eugene final summer season, when he led an American clear sweep of the lads’s 100m medals on residence soil to win his first particular person world title.

He did so regardless of operating with an harm – though that challenge finally ended his hopes of a repeat success within the 200m.

However this yr, in Budapest, he’ll search to realize that particular person world dash double – a feat he believes would elevate his standing within the sport to a different stage.

Fred Kerley wins world 100m gold in Eugene
The boys’s 100m on the 2022 World Championships was the primary time a nation had gained all three medals within the occasion because the USA did so in 1991

“Crucial factor for me is double gold,” says Kerley, not but permitting ideas of Paris 2024 to enter his thoughts.

“Staying wholesome would be the key to success. Observe and subject will be overwhelming generally,” he provides, emphasising the significance of each his bodily and psychological wellbeing.

“It will put me up there with some elite athletes.”

One man who will hope to disclaim Kerley in his quest for gold is Lamont Marcell Jacobs, Italy’s shock Olympic 100m champion.

Kerley needed to accept silver by 4 hundredths of a second on his main championship debut on the Tokyo Video games, earlier than upgrading his medal within the absence of the injured Jacobs finally yr’s Worlds.

Set for an interesting battle for world supremacy in August, latest social media exchanges have fuelled pleasure of a burgeoning rivalry, with Kerley difficult Jacobs to an unprecedented one-on-one race however including he didn’t know if his rival would “present up”.

Jacobs responded on Instagram with an image of his Olympic victory, accompanied by the phrases: “Everytime you need, wherever you need. However keep in mind that when it mattered extra it ended like this.”

It has since been introduced that Kerley could have his alternative to compete towards Jacobs at two upcoming Diamond League meets – in Rabat on 28 Could and Florence on 2 June.

“As a human being, I give the man all my respect,” says Kerley, discussing his emotions in direction of Jacobs.

“As a observe athlete, I am aggressive and I am able to compete on any given day.

“That is what we do for a dwelling. I do know what I am able to doing. I am right here to compete and get my identify on the market for greater issues.”

He provides: “One-on-one stuff can be good for the game.”

Lamont Marcell Jacobs and Fred Kerley
Lamont Marcell Jacobs clocked 9.80 seconds to beat Fred Kerley to the Olympic 100m title

The thought of a head-to-head contest is partly pushed by Kerley’s imaginative and prescient of what the way forward for the game may seem like.

The large success of Method 1’s behind-the-scenes Netflix collection Drive to Survive, familiarising the viewers with the game’s personalities, has supplied a blueprint for achievement as athletics seeks to enchantment to a world viewers with altering calls for – in a bid to draw a loyal, year-round following.

“It is getting the income to do it,” says Kerley. “We might be an F1, I’d say. [A Netflix-style series] would undoubtedly be helpful to the game itself.

“Individuals that do not comply with athletics, they only tune in for the Olympic Video games.

“We’re greater than the Olympic Video games. The NBA has the Championships, the NFL has the Tremendous Bowl. We do extra stuff outdoors the Olympic Video games that deserves extra recognition.

“Everybody on this planet do not know who I’m – however everyone is aware of who LeBron James is.

“To develop our names and develop the game it’s a must to step outdoors of the norm that we have been doing for years and years, getting the identical outcomes.”

Fred Kerley celebrates with the crowd after winning world 100m gold
Fred Kerley’s private better of 9.76 seconds is the joint-sixth quickest 100m in historical past

When Kerley will not be having to consider coaching and competing, it’s time spent gardening which brings the world champion serenity.

Certainly, a key lesson that has underpinned the American’s rise to world stardom is one which he says is central to that individual pastime.

“It reveals you nothing comes in a single day, identical to in observe and subject,” Kerley says.

“You have to work; it’s a must to ensure you water it.

“You need to do all these little issues which result in one thing greater.”

Equally, Kerley says, gardening merely helps take his thoughts off the “stress” of his sporting endeavours.

Welcoming comparisons to Usain Bolt, given his background as a former world bronze medal-winning 400m runner, Kerley has no doubts about his potential to realize his grand targets.

Emboldened by the fun of his breakthrough triumph on residence soil, Kerley – solely the third man in historical past to run beneath 10, 20 and 44 seconds for the 100m, 200m and 400m respectively – will intention to emulate Bolt by changing into the primary man to finish a world dash double because the Jamaican in 2015.

And for Kerley, it truly is all concerning the medals.

“Medals final ceaselessly, instances come and go,” Kerley says.

“On any given day a time will be damaged. Medals final for generations to come back.

“If I keep wholesome something is feasible for me. Together with operating quick and successful medals, it is crucial factor.”

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