The Norwegian is not lacking in confidence, previously declaring that he would be one of the greatest runners of all time.
But Kerr knew his rival had a weakness, he had seen it manifest before as a team-mate and fellow Scot. Jake Wightman kicked 200m from the finish in Eugene last year and beat the great Ingebrigtsen.
A year later it was a mirror image, with Kerr haunting his opponent into forgoing his official Budapest kit to wear a vest similar to that worn by Wightman 12 months earlier. As the new gold medalist said, “I’m not saying I wore the specific model to bring back nightmares, but I needed every ounce [of opportunity] I could have.”
With Ingebrigtsen beaten but the race unfinished, the 25-year-old had flashbacks to all the morning training sessions, the late nights, the sacrifices he had made to move to the United States from Edinburgh. Until then, that was only equivalent to an Olympic bronze medal.
He now joins Wightman and Steve Cram as British world champions at that distance and had gold draped around his neck by an Olympic 1,500m champion in Seb Coe moments after the finish.
Asked about Paris next year, when Wightman will be fit again and his former club mates will be able to launch a double attack on Ingebrigtsen, Kerr said: “That’s the 13th question I ask myself about the Games. Olympics and I had the medal for about 40 minutes. It’s part of the sport, it’s, “What have you done for me lately? I’m going to enjoy it and then go back to the drawing board .
Wightman then called Kerr “The Terminator” in BBC studios, with Kerr smiling upon hearing this and readily admitting that he liked the nickname.
Kerr may have cut off all contact with the rest of the world prior to these events. Athletics World Championships, leaving his phone at home. But before that, he exchanged text messages with defending champion Wightman. Kerr’s message was simple: “I told him it was Britain’s title and I was looking to keep it in this country.”
Achieving this against Ingebrigtsen was no small feat, and he gave up the golden goggles Oakley had created for him for the race, perhaps to avoid tempting fate.
Despite all the previous near misses, the new world champion says he never doubted his day in the spotlight would finally come.
“I knew it was my turn,” he said. “When you’re the underdog, you have to come and take what’s yours, they don’t give you anything. He was going over there, taking what’s mine.
“I felt there was a slight weakness 200m from the finish. I had to stay in lane two for a minute, but I’m going to fight until the end.
He smashed it, and Ingebrigtsen then looked deflated, later blaming him for a sore throat. As for Kerr, he turned to his family, gathered in the stands, to celebrate the hard work that paid off.
Fifth a year ago, Kerr said: “I was still racing when Jake finished last year. I had already set my plans for this year. I hate losing and it’s a lot easier not having a target on my back, so I got to work.
After last night, the target has largely shifted to his back.