Filip Ingebrigtsen, part of a sports-minded and highly competitive Norwegian family that’s been getting lots of publicity lately, now regrets that he bullied his way into a better position during the men’s 1,500-meter race at the Olympics in Rio on Tuesday. He ended up getting disqualified, and now must spend the rest of the Olympics watching from the sidelines.
Ingebrigtsen was initially defiant, defending his decision to literally elbow his way through a clutch of runners instead of moving around them. Some commentators claimed he was perhaps overly confident after recently winning at the European Championships and, at the age of 23, too full of youthful bravado. It all backfired in Rio. Even his older brother Henrik, known for being highly confident himself, harshly scolded his sibling on national TV.
“You could have (expletive deleted) run the other way, you could have overtaken them!,” claimed Henrik, as state broadcaster NRK’s cameras rolled. Henrik said that as soon as he saw the incident occur, he immediately feared Filip would be disqualified. “That was my first response,” Henrik said, calling his brother’s maneuver “too brash.”
Video of the incident shows how Filip literally tried to squeeze between two other runners and push them out of the way, so that he could get ahead of them. It was worst for Charlie Grice of Great Britain, who ended up in 11th place. “It was a dirty trick,” he told NRK. “He came from behind and pushed me completely out of balance. I don’t think it was very nice.”
See the video from TV2 on NRK’s website here.
NRK commentator Vebjørn Rodal, who won gold at the Olympics in Atlanta, said he was right for Filip to quickly be disqualified, even before the other runners and their countries registered their protests. Rodal called his bad move unnecessary: “He still could have secured a place in the semi-finals.”
Team Ingebrigtsen, which also includes their hard-driving coach and father Gjert, protested the quick decision by the Olympic jury to disqualify Filip. Later, after having studied TV pictures from all angles, they admitted the disqualification was correct.
“We don’t have any problems with him being disqualified after we’ve been able to see the pictures,” Gjert Ingebrigtsen said. And Filip turned sheepish. “I accept the fact that I was disqualified,” he told NRK. “It looks really brutal on TV. It was a bit of a brutal way that I tried to move forward in the field. I made my decision on instinct there and then, and I see now it was brutal.”
Asked whether he fears being branded with a bad reputation, he said “no, it wasn’t my intention to be unsportsmanlike or ruin the race.”
His bullying move was very bad for Norway. Ronny Nilsen, sports chief for the Norwegian Athletics Federation, called the disqualification “a great loss” for Norwegian athletics in the Rio Olympics.
“He (Filip) recently became a European champion and he’s very good right now, and I’m sure Filip could have delivered a very good performance at the Olympics,” Nilsen told NRK. “So in that sense, it’s a loss for us all.”