“I’m actually a bit disappointed,” claimed 24-year-old Norwegian runner Filip Ingebrigtsen after he won a bronze meal Sunday night in the men’s 1500-meter race at the World Championships in London. He thought he was “at the same level” as the gold and silver winners from Kenya, but his tough family of runners headed by their father and coach Gjert Ingebrigthsen were mighty pleased.
His older brother Henrik, who couldn’t compete because of injury, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) that Filip had no reason to be disappoiinted. “He did an amazingly strong job,” Henrik Ingebrigtsen told NRK. “This is one of the strongest athletics presentations since Vebjørn Rodal (an earlier Norwegian track and field star). This is exactly what we work towards. It’s a dream that’s been fulfilled.”
The proud older brother in a family known for bantering and being tough on one another said he nearly lost his voice yelling from the sidelines. Their father was more than pleased: “This was great. The race went just as we had thought it would.”
They were also relieved after Spanish competitor Adel Mechaal, who finished fourth, opted against filing a protest that Filip Ingebrigtsen cut him off near the finish line. Spanish officials asked to see the finish on video but ended up dropping a protest. Mechaal, meanwhile, pushed Ingebrigtsen at the finish, causing him to fall just after winning third place after Elijah Motonei Manangoi and Timothy Cheruiyot, both from Kenya. Their racing times were three minutes 33.61 seconds, 3:33.99 respectively and, for Ingebrigthsen, 3:34.53.
It was Norway’s second medal at the IAAF World Championships in London after Karsten Warholm won a spectacular gold medal in the men’s 400-meter hurdles last week. It sent Filip Ingebrigtsen running into the grandstands where his father and brother were cheering loudly. “I’ve never seen him (Henrik) cry before,” said Filip about his older brother, with whom he has openly quarreled on earlier occasions. “It means a lot to see how much it means for Henrik that I succeed. We run every meter together and work really hard.” He said he hopes his injured brother will succeed next season.
Their even younger brother Jakob, age 16, also took part in the World Championships in London, vying for a place in the 3,000-meter hurdles, but he failed to progress beyond his first heat.
Newspaper Aftenposten had reported earlier on Sunday that while the World Championships are like a circus, the family from Sandnes south of Stavanger who’s known as Team Ingebrigtsen in Norway is a “circus within the circus.” There’s been lots of drama around the outspoken father and sons, with Filip known as the most balanced and calm, bordering on shy.
He told Aftenposten that he’d made a silent promise to himself while at the Olympics in Rio last summer, where he’d been disqualified, and that was to seek revenge with a medal at the World Championships. When he made it into the finals in London he finally dared to believe it could happen.
Far from portraying the modesty many Norwegians pride themselves on, Team Ingebrigtsen has ambitions and dares to advertise them. They materialized with Filip’s medal on Sunday, but Henrik claimed that they’d probably celebrate “by getting right back out there and training” for the next competition.