I have big dreams and aspirations.
The biggest of those dreams is to be the first man to clear nine metres in the long jump. Another sizeable goal of mine is to bring home an Olympic gold medal for Canada. Some may call me crazy or tell me I should be more “realistic,” but that's what people always say to anyone who dreams of doing things no one else has done before.
As long as I can remember, I have set the bar extremely high for myself, which is a direct result of my upbringing. My six siblings and I were raised in an environment that helped give us determination and a competitive edge. My parents and siblings helped mold me into the man I am today. Certainly, my family life in those young years had the biggest impact on how I see the world and who I want to be today.
The old proverbial saying is: the family that prays together stays together. But I've always asked myself, what about the family that runs together? I ask because running and competing in track and field was something my whole family was involved in. In my opinion, track brought our family together and fostered characteristics that my siblings and I applied to everyday life and the “real world.”
Foremost among these characteristics are drive and determination, being goal-oriented, ability to do our best work under extreme pressure, and mental toughness. All of these character traits were acquired during the time we were immersed in this sport. For this reason, I will forever see athletics as a way to bond not just with my family, but also with my competitors and friends.
It may seem like a basic and simple set of motions, but track and field holds a lot more than meets the eye. And I would go so far as to say track also means a lot more to me and mine than it does to the average family.
'Training brought us closer'
While we were growing up, my siblings and I were always very close, and we did a lot of stuff together.
Training for and competing in track and field was one of the things that brought us closer as a family. It all started when my third-eldest sister, Naomi Kerr, saw an article in the Brampton Guardian with a photo of a girl in the "on your marks" position in the blocks. Little did I know that article would set into motion a chain of events that would lead me and my family on a relentless journey to become Olympians.
That article inspired my sister to ask my father to put her in track, and me being the annoying little brother who wants to be like his elder sibling, I decided to follow in her footsteps. All of my six siblings, except my older half-brother, have done track at some point in our lives. It started with Naomi, then me, then my other older sisters, Brittany and Kailah, and eventually my younger brother Matthew. My youngest sister, Judaiah, is in track right now.
While we were all young, some in middle school, some in high school, track wasn't something we took too seriously, but we enjoyed it and were all extremely competitive with one another … which was a tool my father used to get us to push one another.
Our fearless leader
Throughout those teenage years, we were a tight-knit unit, with my father, Steve Kerr, as the leader. My mother, Beulah Kerr, was there for emotional support as well. My dad always thought big and believed the most in our ability. Many would say he was a very strict parent, and I admit that as a kid I resented him for it, but now I thank him. A strict upbringing isn't always the bad thing people believe it to be.
Dad gave us direction and taught us focus and discipline. I remember the times we'd come home from school, and before we could go into the house we'd have to do 1000 skips with a skipping rope. And the amount of time we spent practising left little "free time" in our schedules. As a kid I couldn't see the big picture, but I stuck with it as did my siblings, and as we went along the big picture slowly became clearer and bigger.
One by one my siblings stopped running track, taking the memories and skills they learned with them into other avenues of life. Not me. Some would call me stubborn, but that's the wrong word and the wrong perspective. I would just say that I am completely and utterly determined to reach my goals that I set for myself. I am unstoppable.
I've hit highs and lows in my athletic endeavours and for the past few years, the lows far outweighed the highs. I won't lie and say I never thought about giving it all up. I just don't let those thoughts bloom into something bigger. I constantly remind myself of the end goal and the work that I have put in to get to this point. It will be extremely difficult, because nothing great comes easy, but I am willing to go the distance and achieve the highest level of this sport.
I will always be grateful for my large family. They helped make me a competitor, they support me, and uplift me when I’m down. I’d love nothing more than to make them all proud.
(Top large photo by Claus Andersen/Athletics Canada; second large photo by Justin Tang/Canadian Press; third large photo submitted by Jared Kerr)
The Jared Kerr edition
Q: The best book you've ever read?
A: To be honest, I hate reading. I’m a doer.
Q: Must-listen Podcast?
A: Michael Rapaport (Very vulgar but his opinions and cut-straight-to-the-point mentality really is entertaining).
Q: Best advice you ever received?
A: "Luck is for chumps. Hard work is for champs."
Q: If your life was a movie, what would it be called?
A: Everybody Loves Jared (A Raymond spin off)
Q: What word or phrase do you overuse?
A: No such thing as overusing a word but I do use "great" a lot.
Q: What is a skill you wish you had?
A: I would love to be able to breakdance.
Q: What's something no one would guess about you?
A: I could see myself as an artist one day. I really love music. I’ve made beats since I was in middle school.
Q: If you could have the ultimate influential dinner party, who are the six people you'd invite?
A: Justin Trudeau, Aubrey "Drake" Graham, Jamie Foxx, Usain Bolt, LeBron James, Barack Obama.
Q: What makes you cry, every time?
A: The movie UP!
Q: What's the next goal you want to accomplish?
A: Break the Canadian Record of 8.20 metres.