At the tender age of just 19, Josh Kerr has already done something that the likes of Take That, The Jam and Blur never managed; he’s broken America.

Now he has his sights set on conquering the UK as he makes 
an assault on this weekend’s British Athletics World Championship Team Trials.

Two years ago, the 1500m runner from Edinburgh traded in the home comforts of Scotland for an athletics scholarship at the University of 
New Mexico and the rewards for his decision have been plentiful. 

This year,  Kerr has claimed an historic double, winning both the NCAA indoor mile and outdoor 1500m titles, becoming the first man since 2008 to win this brace of titles.

This weekend in Birmingham, Kerr will have the opportunity to show a UK audience what he can do as he stakes a claim for one of the coveted 1500m spots in the British team for this summer’s World Championships.

But if the teenager is to claim a place in his first World Championship team, he is going to have to be at the top of his game, with the men’s 1500m shaping up to be the race of the weekend. Not since the days of Coe, Cram and Ovett has there been so much genuine world-class talent on display. 

There are four men fighting for three World Championship spots and all have sterling credentials. Kerr will battle against his compatriots Jake Wightman, who tops the British rankings this year following his 
Oslo Diamond League victory a fortnight ago, and 2016 Olympian Chris O’Hare, as well as Englishman Charlie Grice, who is reigning champion.

Kerr has already got the qualifying time under his belt and so must ensure that he finishes in the top two in the final on Sunday to secure a place on the start line at August’s World Championships, which will be held in London. 

There is no doubting the size of his task, but it’s a challenge the teenager is wholeheartedly embracing. “I’m feeling good – it’s been a reasonably long season but I’m still feeling fresh so I’m looking forward to the trials,” he said. 

“It would be huge if I could get into the team but I know how quick these guys are so it’s set up to be a great race. I’m excited to be a part of a battle like this and I’m looking forward to showing people that I can perform on a senior stage as well as an NCAA stage.”

The American collegiate system is, according to Kerr, astonishingly good and he has no doubts that his improvement in the past year has been down to being in an ultra-competitive environment surrounded by round- the-clock support. But the Scot believes that his good form in the first half of this year has been, in large part, down to a slight alteration in his attitude. 

The art of 1500m running can be as much a battle of tactics as it is a battle of physical ability and, having used his first year in New Mexico to settle into the American system, the reigning European Under-20 champion has used his second year to make a real impact. 

“I’ve had a different mindset this season – I’ve been wanting to win so badly but I’ve been relaxed about it and it’s all come together really well,” he said. 

“It was a big achievement for me to do the NCAA double. The indoor mile was a huge race for me and that was my breakthrough performance. That showed people how I could perform and it gave me so much confidence being able to beat those guys on the day. After that, I was still only ranked second or third going into the outdoor season and that p*ssed me off so I felt like I still had a lot to prove. 

“In my first race of the outdoor season, I was racing the guys who were ranked ahead of me and that really pushed me on to beat them. After then when I got the No.1 ranking, I wanted to prove that I could win even with the pressures of being ranked No.1 and I managed that, which was great.”

Kerr’s impressive results mean that he goes into this weekend’s trials with plenty of pressure upon his shoulders. Heightened levels of expectation do not suit some but Kerr admits to being delighted that all eyes will be on him on Sunday. 

“I do like that I’m not an underdog anymore,” he said. “I’ve been fighting away to make sure that people know who I am and respect me as a runner and it’s been great to get some recognition for my achievements. 

“I’ve finally made that breakthrough in the NCAAs butI don’t feel like I’ve made a breakthrough in the British scene yet so hopefully this weekend, I can do that. 

“I’m feeling confident and that I’m in good enough shape to get on that World Championships team, so I just need to concentrate and make sure I make the correct decisions in the race.”