Series04 Apr 2018

High and low – Fred Kerley


US 400m sprinter Fred Kerley in London (© Getty Images)

During a breakout 2017 season, emerging 400m star Fred Kerley ran a blistering 43.70 to climb to seventh on the all-time lists and also snared the US one-lap title. We find out more about the exciting 22-year-old as he draws upon a hugely influential moment from his personal life and a serious injury which derailed his athletics career for a couple of seasons.



“The high moment for me was when I was adopted by my auntie as a toddler. At the time my mum and dad were in some trouble and at one stage it looked like my four other siblings and I were going to be split up. But my auntie, Virginia, took us on, even though she already had kids of her own and she took care of four or five other kids. Growing up we were 13 kids living in the same house.

“My auntie was a huge influence on my life and continually pushed us to be the best that I could. She motivated all of us to complete a college degree and taught us never to be discouraged. She was always such a caring person. She sacrificed so much and sometimes even went without food to make sure we always ate.


Fred Kerley at the 2017 World Championships


“Her decision to adopt my siblings and me was the most important moment of my life and without her I wouldn’t be where I am today. Even today I speak with her every day.”



“My low moment came during my sophomore year at junior college. I had been running well in the early spring and I was confident I could run a 44-second 400m after recording a 45.0 split in the 4x400m leg at Texas Relays. Then the day after, while running the anchor leg of the 4x100m, I felt a pain my leg after about 60m of sprinting. I carried on before falling over the finish line when I realised I’d tore my quad. I had a hole in my leg and I could put my finger in the hole.

“I was a difficult period for me. I hardly competed again in 2015 and even in my junior year I still felt I was not running he kind of times I knew I was capable of.


Fred Kerley winning the 2017 US 400m title


“I was fortunate to have a very supportive team around me during this difficult period. They kept me motivated and after taking on a regime of eating the right foods, drinking water and getting plenty of rest I came out in 2017 and enjoyed an amazing season. In the end, my problems of 2015 and 2016 proved a blessing.”

Steve Landells for the IAAF