‘It was emotional’: Britain’s Josh Kerr and Molly Caudery win gold in Glasgow

<span>Molly Caudery celebrates a successful vault.</span><span>Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Molly Caudery celebrates a successful vault.Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images

First came the sight of Josh Kerr roaring and punching the air, adrenaline whizzing around him like a tornado. Then, 34 minutes later, there was Molly Caudery crying and shaking her head, still adapting to the thrill of the new. And just like that Britain had two gold medals, two world indoor champions, and a glorious evening for a sport that has suffered its fair share of bruises.

Super Saturday? Not quite. But what a night it was. Naturally Kerr, who was born in Edinburgh, stole most of the attention of the home crowd with an imperious victory in the 3,000m. But 23-year-old Caudery also burrowed into their hearts with a staggeringly impressive win in the pole vault.

Related: Christian Coleman claims to be ‘greatest ever’ at 60m after world indoor gold

Kerr, the reigning world 1500m champion, had spent all winter dithering over whether to return to Scotland from his training base in the US for these championships. But when it really mattered he was brutally decisive.

In a race with frequent surges in pace, and sharp elbows when the pack suddenly slowed and bunched together, the Scot bided his time before striking out with two laps left. When he did, no one ever looked like catching him. Gold was achieved in 7min 42.98sec with the American Yared Nuguse hoovering up ground to take silver more than half a second back.

“That is the loudest I’ve ever been in a stadium,” said Kerr. “I knew I needed to keep a calm head and keep the heart rate down. It was an emotional day out there.”

It certainly was, and Kerr certainly embraced victory to the full. “I think I burnt more energy celebrating than I did in the race,” he added. “That was a bit embarrassing. It wasn’t the cleanest race but I got it done and a world title is amazing. I feel pumped.”

And so did Caudery after beating a galaxy of pole vault legends, including the 2020 Olympic and double world champion Katie Moon, and 2016 champion Aikaterini Stefanidi, with a clearance of 4.80m.

It wasn’t an easy evening to navigate, especially given a long delay when the French athlete Margot Chevrier appeared to break her ankle, but Caudery held it together – just.

“It was an absolutely crazy competition,” she said, after beating the New Zealander Eliza McCartney on countback. “I thought we would have to jump higher to win but a few of the girls were injured or got injured. Margot did her ankle. After her jump, I was crying to my coach, Scott Simpson. I felt so bad for her, I had to regroup after that and executed. I am very proud of myself.”

What makes Caudery’s story even more remarkable is that she nearly chopped her finger off while weightlifting at home in 2021 – an injury that required three surgeries to fix.

“What’s the secret? It’s just not being injured,” she added. “For the first time since maybe I was 17, I have been injury-free and get some training and confidence in. Mentally, I am stronger, physically I am stronger. A combination of all of that has set me higher.”

There had been high hopes for a third British medal on the night but Laura Muir never got involved in a lightning quick women’s 3,000m, which was won in devastating fashion by the American Elle St Pierre.

St Pierre, a dairy farmer who had her first child last year, clung to the favourite Gudaf Tsegay’s shoulder all the way around before kicking off the bend to win in a championship record 8:20.87. Tsegay was second in 8.21:13, while Muir was fifth in 8:29.76. Afterwards she admitted she had no excuses.

There was another surprise in the men’s 400m as Karsten Warholm, the world record holder in the 400m hurdles, was beaten by the Belgian Alexander Doom. On a busy night on the track, Julien Alfred won gold in the women’s 60m in 6.98, beating Ewa Swoboda by 0.02, while Grant Holloway extended his decade-long unbeaten record in the indoor 60m hurdles with another world title.

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However, the performance of the evening came from Dutch star Femke Bol, who broke her own indoor 400m world record to take gold in 49.17. Britain’s Laviai Nielsen ran a lifetime best of 50.89 in coming fourth.

Meanwhile there was controversy off the track as men’s long jump winner Miltiadis Tentoglou attacked World Athletics’ proposals to scrap the wooden take-off board as “dogshit”. “If the rules are applied, I will stop doing long jump,” he added. “Changing it would remove all the skill.”