THIS weekend’s British Athletics Championships are shaping up to be quite a spectacle. And the event of the weekend, from both a Scottish and a British perspective, could well transpire to be the men’s 1500m, which boasts strength in depth to such an extent that it brings back memories of the halcyon days of Coe, Ovett and Cram.

With a handful of runners already having bagged the qualification standard for this summer’s European Championships, there is much at stake at Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium over the next two days. And as has been the case for the past year or so, it is a bunch of Scots leading the way.

Last season’s British Championships saw Scots dominate the 1500m, with Chris O’Hare taking the title in a Scottish 1-2-3-4. This year however, there could be a new name on the top step of the podium. Heading the British rankings this season is Josh Kerr, who took silver at last year’s Championships but has stepped up another level in recent months, running faster than he ever has before.

Kerr ran 3 minutes 35.01 seconds in April, over half a second faster than the best of the rest have managed this year. Yet the 20-year-old, who is originally from Edinburgh, remains curiously low profile outwith athletics circles despite the fact that he is spearheading Britain’s middle-distance charge.

Much of this anonymity is down to his choice to base himself in America, with Kerr having moved to America in 2015 to study at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. It is a move that has worked wonders for the Scot and he admits that despite being the top-ranked Brit, being based State-side allows him to eschew much of the pressure that comes with the lofty standing of being British number one.

“It doesn’t feel like an extra pressure actually,” he told Herald Sport.

“I think because I’m not in the UK set-up week in, week out so I’ve not got people talking to me all the time about being top of the rankings. So it’s not something that I really think about too much because I was more focused on the NCAAs (college races) and being ranked number one in that.

I think being over in America definitely distracts you from the UK pressures but being in America brings its own pressures because the level is ridiculous. I love being in America – it really works for me and I definitely believe that being in America has pushed me to where I am.”

Kerr knows that going into this weekend’s British Championships he has his best opportunity yet to win his first national senior title. The rude health of the 1500m in this country though means that he will have to be at his very best, a fact he is not shying away from. With O’Hare looking to defend his title and Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Jake Wightman both in fine form, as well Englishman Charles Da’Vall Gricea serious challenger, Kerr is under no illusions as to the size of the task ahead of him. But he remains extremely confident of the shape he is in going into the Championships.

“I want to win every race I run,” the NCAA champion said.

“To be British champion would be a massive thing - I’ve won British titles at most of the age groups, under-15, under-17 and under-20 so to add a senior title would be nice.

“ I’m feeling really confident going into the British Champs. Chris, Jake and Charlie are all great guys and they all seem to be racing themselves into fitness so it’s definitely going to be a real battle on the day. Success breeds success and that’s where we’re at with 1500m running in Britain at the moment. But I know that just because I’m going in ranked number one, it’s absolutely not a done deal so I need to make sure I race smart.

“But I’m definitely hoping to go one better than last year.”

With European Championships selection up for grabs - only the top two will be guaranteed a seat on the plane to Berlin - there is little room for mistakes. But Kerr knows that being the best in Britain means he will then move on to August’s European Championships as a very real medal prospect.

His first major championships experience was last summer, at London 2017, but he came away disappointed. He failed to make the 1500m final but with a degree of hindsight, Kerr is now able to look back on that experience and glean the positives from it.

“The World Champs was a massive learning curve for me and it really highlighted to me how much I didn’t know,” he said

“It was a tough experience and it was pretty eye-opening for me and so it’s about getting used to that atmosphere. I’m fine racing at British Champs and being up against guys who are older than me but being on the world stage was a massive step and it was one I don’t think I was particularly ready for.

“For me now though, it’s about putting myself in a position where I’m in really competitive races. I need to realise that over the next five or six years, I might not win every race I’m in but I’m going to learn everything I can so that when it comes to World Championships and Olympic Games, I can do well.”