“I want to become a legend, like Usain Bolt. » Fred Kerley still has work to do to satisfy his ambitions, but he laid the first stone on Saturday, July 16, in Eugene, Oregon (United States), in the 100 meter final. The American sprinter became world champion for the first time in his career with a time of 9.86 seconds. He leads his compatriots Marvin Bracy (9.88 seconds) and Trayvon Bromell (9.88 seconds). Young Jamaican Oblique Seville finishes 4e in 9.97 seconds.
Best performer of the season before the start of the Worlds – 9.76 seconds achieved on this same track at Hayward Field, at the end of June – Fred Kerley had impressed from the playoffs, achieving the time of 9.79 seconds, the fastest series fastest in the history of world championships. In the semi-final, the Texan was less greedy by winning in 10.02 seconds.
Last year in Tokyo, silent Fred Kerley won the Olympic silver medal in a surprising – and disappointing – final behind the Italian Marcell Jacobs. A specialist in the 400 meters, the new king of the sprint has become known internationally on the lap. In 2019, he finished 3e distance during the World Championships in Doha, before opting for an explosive conversion to the 100 meters for the Olympic Games (OG).
“I consider myself above all as a total athlete”
The American had started with the 200 meters in high school, before becoming a double champion in the 400 meters at the university level (NCAA) and making it his favorite discipline for his first years as a professional runner. Few people believed in his bet before Tokyo 2021.
After his final finished in second position, the NBC commentator illustrated it: “We said Kerley was crazy, nobody’s going to say that anymore. » The main interested party, an audacious alchemist, confirmed: “I achieved what people said I couldn’t achieve. All I want now is to turn silver into gold. »
In 2021, after a victory over the 100 meters at the Brussels meeting, the new world champion in the queen distance was the first to win a victory in the Diamond League over 100 meters, 200 meters and 400 meters. On Twitter, the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 account challenged him: “So… what event are you going to focus on next year?” » The humorous response rang out : “800 meters. » Followed by a denial “No, I’m just joking. »
Another performance that reinforces his versatility, he is one of three athletes – along with South African Wayde van Niekerk and American Michael Norman – who have run in less than 10 seconds for 100 meters, less than 20 seconds for 200 meters and less 44 seconds in the 400 meters. If the doubles 100-200 meters (Usain Bolt is the living illustration) or 200-400 meters (Michael Johnson or Marie-José Pérec prove it) are not rare, this ability to be as efficient in the 400 to 100 meters is quite breathtaking.
Michael Johnson was an Olympic gold medalist and world record holder in the 200 meters (19.32) and 400 meters (43.18), but his best time in the 100 meters was 10.09 seconds. As for Usain Bolt, who holds the world records for the 100 meters (9.58 seconds) and 200 meters (19.19 seconds), he never did better than a modest 45.28 seconds over 400 meters.
In a recent interview with The TeamFred Kerley explained his gift: “I consider myself above all as a total athlete, and I think I will always be able to express myself on the three distanceshe indicated. I’m proud of this versatility, no one thought I was capable of it, especially since going down to the 100 meters was a last minute choice. That said, the pain at the end of the effort is always present, whatever the distance! »
World records in the 100, 200 and 400 meters in sight
Finally individual world champion, Fred Kerley does not want to stop there. If he is not yet the fastest American sprinter of all time – he is still ahead of Tyson Gay (9.69 seconds) and Justin Gatlin (9.74 seconds) – he has a voracious appetite. He wants to tackle the records of the three sprint events.
“I’m not really worried about the American record, there’s another one above [le record du monde d’Usain Bolt]. That’s the one I’m aiming for. You’re not trying to get second place, you’re aiming for the best,” he had asserted. Before driving the point home in an interview with Tokyo 2020 after its Olympic silver medal in 2021: “It is my absolute desire to be the fastest man ever. »
In March, the “total sprinter” started his season with a 400 meters run in 44.47 seconds. He then decided to focus on the 100 and 200 meters to increase his speed. “My biggest goal is still the 400 meters in the next few years. Now I’m focused on improving my top speed so I can write history.” he had declared to the specialized site FloTrack.
To achieve his goals, the sprinter will need to believe in himself and perhaps he will rely on other beliefs. The man collects tattoos dedicated to his Christian faith: Psalm 104 (praise of divine creation), the Virgin Mary, rosary beads, angel wings, praying hands, a cross and to finish this list à la Prévert, the word “blessed”. An inscription that seems prescient. At 27, the Texan is blessed with the god of speed.