Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Kerr was born in Enniskillen, Ireland, but his family emigrated to Canada when he was five, eventually settling in Hamilton. While working as a fireman, Kerr also enjoyed running in his spare time. He soon became the best regional sprinter, and in 1904 he used his savings to travel to St. Louis and compete in the 1904 Summer Olympics. There, he was eliminated in the heats of all three events he entered (60 m, 100 m and 200 m).
However, Kerr's performances got better, and he set Canadian records in all sprint distances between 40 and 220 y. He won Canadian titles in the 100 y (1907) and 200 y (1906 to 1908). In 1908, Kerr travelled to Britain, where he competed in the British Championships, winning both the 100 and 200 y. At the 1908 Summer Olympics, also held in Britain, Kerr was considered to be somewhat of a home favourite by the crowd, as they saw him as a representative of the British Empire. He greatly improved on his Olympic performances of 1904, placing for the final of the 100 and 200 m. In the 100 m, he finished in third (behind South Africa's Reggie Walker). In the final of the 200 m, held the next day, Kerr crossed the line first. News of his victory set of celebrations in his home town Hamilton.
After his sprinting career, Kerr remained active in sports. He coached the athletics and football teams of Hamilton, and was an official at the 1928 and 1932 Olympics. In 1928, he witnessed Percy Williams succeeding him as Canadian winner of the 200 m. Furthermore, he was involved in the Canadian Olympic Association, and helped organize the 1930 British Empire Games in Hamilton.
Kerr died in Hamilton, aged 81. A park in his home town was named in his honour.
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