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Winning alone is not enough, Jakob Ingebrigtsen wants compensation

After gold in the 5000 m, the Norwegian is also aiming for the European title in the 1500 m. He had already planned this double for the Worlds, but there he was beaten by a runner he considers inferior.

The first strike: Jakob Ingebrigtsen left his opponents over 5000 m on the home straight.

Vegard Grott / Imago

When he accelerated again at the end of the target curve on Tuesday, even the last opponents had no chance. Jakob Ingebrigtsen sprinted down the home straight in 12.8 seconds and, like in 2018, became European champion over 5000 m. The next coup is to follow on Thursday in Munich: gold over 1500 m. That would be a feat, but for the 21-year-old it was just a déjà -vu, because he already did this double in 2018, when he was 17 and was celebrated as a child prodigy. He is now also an Olympic and world champion. And gradually he runs out of goals.

The sting of defeat runs deep

But there is a thorn that runs deep with the Norwegian. At the Worlds a month ago, he wanted to replicate the double he’d done at the Europeans on a global scale and place himself among the greats in running history. But in the final of the 1500m, Brit Jake Wightman bought the guts from him. Ingebrigtsen later said it hurts to be beaten by a weaker athlete.

Wightman recently responded in the Daily Mail with British sportsmanship. “I may be the worse athlete for the rest of the season – but I wasn’t the worst that night.” In Munich he will not offer his hand for revenge, the 28-year-old starts over 800 m.

Jake Wightman defeated Jakob Ingebrigtsen at the World Championships in Eugene.

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Ingebritsen’s reaction wasn’t exactly sporty, but it’s not surprising when you know his story. The Norwegian started training at the age of three, and when he was tested by sports scientists for the first time at the age of ten, he showed values ​​that are otherwise only found in much older runners.

He was vastly superior to the competition of his own age, and the fact that he still lost occasionally is one of his most painful memories. In 2021 he said to the “Tages-Anzeiger”: “I was convinced that I was the best and that the victory was mine.”

The fact that Jakob Ingebrigtsen was so good so early has to do with the very special support. Father Gjert started training his children when they expressed a desire to play sports. At first, cross-country skiing was the goal, and because it rarely snows where the Ingebrigtsen family lives, Gjert let his boys do their laps in a parking garage in front of school in the mornings.

The father was only a part-time trainer and was a pure autodidact. Despite this, he led his children to success. Henrik, born in 1991, became European champion over 1500 m in 2012, Filip (1993) made it in 2016, and Jakob (2000) won gold over 1500 and 5000 m in 2018. He is faster than his brothers and also more successful.

As an explanation, the father gave two reasons in a conversation in 2019: Jakob started training younger than his brothers, and the coach was able to eliminate all the mistakes he had made with Henrik and Filip. Talent is only one factor. “The rest is education and discipline.”

Gjert Ingebrigtsen ran his sporting family business with an iron fist. When they lived together in an apartment at the training camp in St. Moritz, he also checked how long they talked on the phone or played video games. That sometimes caused a row, and it happened that the sons went to training alone – without their father’s plan. Henrik had to train on his own wedding day, Jakob couldn’t attend the graduation ceremony because a training camp was more important.

Jacob has broken away from his father

When asked if he wanted to train his children one day, Henrik Ingebrigtsen said in 2019: “Never! I want to be a loving and supportive father, not one who pushes and demands.” In any case, the father was reluctant to allow his sons to have a family of their own or just a girlfriend. That distracts me from the sport.

In February, the “Stavanger Aftenblad” reported that the father was stepping down as coach of the Ingebrigtsen team for health reasons. At the same time it became known that the 15-year-old daughter Ingrid, who was once expected to do miracles, was quitting sport.

It has never been revealed what health problems Gjert Ingebrigtsen has. In June, however, Jakob and Henrik spoke to the “New York Times” and spoke of tensions that led to the separation. The father was always stressed, especially on race days, and that often led to outbursts of anger. It was time to separate the family and the sporty.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen trains himself to a large extent today. He is also often seen at competitions with his fiancée, Elisabeth Asserson. She helped him to be a little more open, he says. But that didn’t change his ambition.

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