World Athletics Indoor Championships 2024: Olympics in sights for Josh Kerr & Molly Caudery

  • By Harry Poole
  • BBC Sport in Glasgow

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Dominant Kerr wins 3,000m world indoor title

Jemma Reekie’s initial disappointment at claiming silver in the World Athletics Indoor Championships illustrated the significant ambitions of Great Britain’s athletes with five months to go until the Olympics.

That breakthrough first major medal in the 800m for the 25-year-old was the hosts’ fourth and final medal in Glasgow, where Josh Kerr and Molly Caudery starred with golds on home soil.

At the end of a weekend during which GB also won women’s 4x400m relay bronze, World Athletics president Lord Coe expressed his excitement for the nation’s Olympic prospects this summer.

“We are heading into Paris with the most exciting crop of young athletes I have seen for a few generations,” he told BBC Sport.

And, following Sunday’s relay bronze that marked an emotional milestone for twin sisters Laviai and Lina Nielsen, Reekie’s hugely popular silver provided a fitting finale to a successful weekend for a small British team that finished fifth in the medal table.

The early season promise shown by several global stars, including American sprinter Noah Lyles and Dutch record-breaker Femke Bol has already stirred up excitement for the Paris Games, where the athletics programme begins on 1 August.

Before then, British athletes will target the European Championships in Rome in June then aim to secure their Olympic place at the UK Championships on 8 and 9 July.

Kerr & Caudery confirm world standing

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‘It’s been emotional’ – Josh Kerr on winning 3,000m gold

Asked before the championships for his response to reigning Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen’s assertion that he could beat Kerr “blindfolded”, the Briton replied “no comment”.

Kerr, who saw off the Norwegian to win world 1500m gold in Budapest last August, instead trusted his fitness to do the talking for him. It did just that as he kicked clear to win his second global title in little more than six months.

The Scotsman has made no secret of his belief he will top the podium in Paris and he continues to justify that self-confidence.

Focused on building endurance at the start of this Olympic year, Kerr’s success over 3,000m, in which he displayed blistering finishing speed, came after he broke Sir Mo Farah’s world indoor two-mile record. He has positioned himself as the man to beat this year.

“Josh [Kerr] has become physically intimidating on a track,” said Lord Coe.

“3,000m is a complicated distance indoors, but I thought physically and mentally he had the measure of everyone in that field. The opposition are thinking that as well.”

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World Athletics Indoor Championships 2024: Britain’s Molly Caudery wins pole vault gold

The expectation that accompanied Kerr’s arrival in Glasgow is something team-mate Caudery might now have to become accustomed to.

So far, though, Britain’s 23-year-old rising star has shown she thrives on the biggest stages, taking gold at only her second global championships.

Since producing a personal best to finish fifth on her world debut in Budapest, Caudery has emerged as the standout star in her event this year – setting three world leads, each a new lifetime best.

Caudery, who beat a world-class field including reigning Olympic champion Katie Moon to take gold in Glasgow, has admitted she enjoys competing as an underdog. Those days, however, are now firmly behind her.

“Coming into this I didn’t think that I could win gold but I think it has reframed my mind and [I can] start believing in myself a little bit more, just thinking I do belong here,” she told BBC Sport.

Reekie, Muir & Nielsen among podium contenders

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Reekie wins silver as Duguma takes title

Scot Reekie said she had learned “a good lesson” before Paris 2024 after being denied the gold she desperately wanted in front of passionate home support.

Despite achieving a breakthrough medal three years after missing out on the Olympic podium by 0.09 seconds, the lack of emotion she showed after crossing the line behind Ethiopia’s Tsige Duguma was indicative of the high standards she has set herself.

Rejuvenated by a coaching change, Reekie will now set her sights on challenging leading 800m trio Keely Hodgkinson, Athing Mu and Mary Moraa this summer.

Fellow Scot Laura Muir had been clear before the event that Glasgow was a “stepping stone” in her Olympic preparations – the lure of racing in front of a home crowd being too strong to ignore even though the event didn’t fit perfectly into her Paris countdown.

The Olympic 1500m silver medallist, 30, was unable to deliver the 3,000m medal the Glasgow crowd hoped to see but her focus remains firmly on the bigger picture – specifically, finding a way to deny the seemingly unstoppable Faith Kipyegon.

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GB women set new national record and win bronze in 4x400m relay

British team captain Laviai Nielsen, now a five-time world relay medallist, went close to her first major individual medal with fourth place in the women’s 400m.

That event was won by the seemingly unstoppable Bol in world-record time. However, the Dutch athlete will focus her attention on the hurdles in Paris as she aims to upgrade her Tokyo 2020 bronze.

But it was the relay final and the chance to at last represent GB alongside her twin sister Lina that arguably meant far more to Laviai – especially when, alongside Ama Pipi and Jessie Knight, they made the podium.

Elsewhere for GB, rapidly improving 1500m runner Georgia Bell narrowly missed out on a medal with fourth, while Morgan Lake – fourth at last summer’s worlds – was left disappointed in her bid for a first major medal as she placed sixth.

History-chasing Lyles and record-breaking Bol

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Noah Lyles aiming for four golds at Paris Olympics

Lyles became the first man since Usain Bolt in 2015 to win a world sprint treble last year. In 2024, the American looks poised to launch a bid for a historic quadruple haul of Olympic sprint medals.

The world 100m, 200m and 4x100m champion will look to add the 4x400m relay to his targets after a confidence-boosting winter that resulted in silver behind fellow American Christian Coleman over 60m – the event Lyles considers his weakest.

He put that plan into action on Sunday, running the third leg of the United States’ 4x400m quartet and collecting another silver.

Many of his rivals, including Olympic 100m champion Marcell Jacobs and silver medallist Fred Kerley – who accused USA Track & Field of showing favouritism over Lyles’ relay inclusion – did not compete in Glasgow, but Lyles has made clear his intention to be in world-record shape by August to stay ahead of them.

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Bol breaks world record to win 400m indoor title

One athlete already producing record-breaking times in 2024 is Bol. Although the 24-year-old’s focus will likely remain the 400m hurdles, she lowered her own indoor 400m world record again in a statement performance.

Sweden’s Armand Duplantis is no stranger to world records either, but the Olympic and world pole vault champion has not yet hit his usual heights in 2024. Still, that did not prevent him winning his fifth global title in Glasgow.

Other GB Paris prospects to watch out for

Britain sent a reduced squad of 25 athletes to Glasgow, with many choosing to miss the home championships as they continue to focus on their Olympic preparations.

Among the nation’s Olympic medal prospects to miss out were world heptathlon champion Katarina Johnson-Thompson and fellow Budapest medallists Hodgkinson, Matthew Hudson-Smith, Zharnel Hughes and Ben Pattison.

Sprinters Dina Asher-Smith, the 2019 200m world champion, and Daryll Neita – part of GB’s world bronze medal-winning 4x100m quartet – also did not compete but will hope to challenge in Paris.

Jake Wightman, crowned 1500m world champion two years ago, is continuing his return to fitness following an injury disrupted 2023 in the hope he can be ready to fight good friend Kerr for gold.

In the field disciplines, Olympic pole vault bronze medallist Holly Bradshaw and European indoor long jump champion Jazmin Sawyers are yet to compete this year.

Reference

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