Molly Caudery and Josh Kerr win gold on Glasgow’s ‘Super Saturday’

Molly Caudery
Molly Caudery wins pole vault gold at the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Glasgow - Martin Rickett/PA Wire

Two British golds in the space of just 35 minutes; this was not quite London 2012 all over again but the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow still had its own very special ‘Super Saturday’.

First Josh Kerr delivered a stunning final lap to add a world indoor title over 3,000 metres to the outdoor crown he won last summer, before the Cornish pole vaulter Molly Caudery confirmed her new-found status as the world’s best so far of 2024.

A winning clearance of 4.80m had come just moments after Kerr’s emphatic win but she was then forced into an agonising wait to see if Eliza McCartney could better her height. The New Zealander is a training partner in Loughborough, and has the pedigree of an Olympic bronze medal, but was unable to surpass the 23-year-old Caudery.

A gold medal was just reward for her wonderful form so far this winter and, while the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028 had always been her long-term ambition, Caudery is already a serious contender to win Great Britain’s first Olympic pole vault gold.

You would also have to go all the way back to Tessa Sanderson in 1984 for the last time a British woman struck Olympic gold in a field event. “I don’t have the words right now – I’m living my dream – I honestly can’t believe it,” said a tearful Caudery after embracing her parents, Stuart and Barbara, at the side of the track.

“My mum and dad are so proud of me – my dad was my coach until I was 18, and for them to be here and witness that was so special. They were crying just as much as I was and it was such a special moment to be able to share.

“It was an absolutely crazy competition. It’s an indescribable feeling. Knowing you have the whole nation behind you is the best feeling.”

Caudery also had to regain her composure after the competition was delayed as French athlete Margot Chevrier suffered a broken ankle.

“I did not keep my cool – I ended up crying to my coach,” she said. “I really take on the emotions of other people. I tried to take myself away and I just couldn’t. He knows me very well, he was like, ‘Don’t hold it in, let it all out, so I had a minute to cry, reset and I send my love to all of them.”

With Laura Muir and Laviai Nielsen also registering top-six finishes, it was a memorable evening for the British crowd and one that eases some of the pressure on UK Athletics over a selection policy that has very much prioritised quality over a high quantity of athletes in Glasgow.

The verbal back and forth between the big beasts of men’s middle-distance running has been incessant this winter but, for the second time in a month, Kerr again let his legs deliver the most convincing statement.

Now an indoor world champion and world record holder, Kerr overhauled the Olympic 10,000m champion Selemon Barega to send his home crowd into raptures.

He is the first Scottish athlete to win a world indoor title since Tom McKean and Yvonne Murray 31 years ago and, perhaps just as important ahead of the battles ahead, an emphatic message was also sent to the absent Jakob Ingebrigtsen.

The Norwegian Olympic 1500m champion will be the big threat to Kerr’s hopes in Paris but has been injured of late and so reduced only to mind games in recent months.

The latest had been his observation that he could have matched Kerr’s world two-mile record blindfolded but, whatever he says publicly, he surely cannot fail to notice how Kerr has grown since beating him to the world title last summer.

“I was pumped,” said Kerr. “For Scotland, for the UK, it’s a huge championship. I’m so relieved, so happy. The Scottish and British fans packing out this stadium is the loudest I’ve ever been in. It was an emotional day.”

It had also been another perfectly executed race. Showing considerable patience, Kerr settled into the bunch through the early stages and allowed Barega and the Ethiopian’s compatriot Getnet Wale to rotate at the front. Kerr made his first significant move with 800m to go, drifting up onto Barega’s shoulder where he waited until he approached the bell at 200m.

The Scot’s change of pace was then utterly decisive in kicking past Barega and into the lead on the back straight before romping to victory. Kerr barely broke stride as he crossed the line, celebrating with a finger to his ear, before high-fiving some of the trackside volunteers and then wrapping himself in a Scotland flag.

Josh Kerr wraps himself in the Saltire
Josh Kerr delights the home crowd in Glasgow after winning the world title - ROBERT PERRY/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

An enormous surge of pent-up adrenalin had been unleashed and the crowd lapped it up. “I think I burnt more energy celebrating than I did in the race – that was a bit embarrassing,” said Kerr. “I feel like I’ve let the UK audience down a little bit in the way that I’ve performed in the last few years in front of them. This was really important for me to come here and execute.”

Muir had earlier raced to a season’s best of 8min 29.76sec to finish fifth over the same 3000m distance. Her target this summer is the 1500m, where she was the Olympic silver medallist in Tokyo, but the longer distance in these championships had better suited her current training priorities.

A slow race would certainly also have helped Muir but that hope was soon ended by the sight of Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay immediately hitting the front before being overhauled by the American Elle St Pierre in the final straight.

There was also then a world record in the women’s 400m, with Femke Bol, the world outdoor champion over the 400m hurdles, demolishing the field in a time of 49.17sec. Britain’s team captain Nielsen went under 51 seconds for the first time in her life to finish narrowly outside the medals in fourth.