Gjert Ingebrigtsen, the demanding patriarch of a Norwegian family of runners, has been put on sick leave and will be cutting back on his role as coach of Norway’s “Team Ingebrigtsen.” Details of his illness were not revealed, but his boys appear poised to take care of themselves.
“As the situation is now, Gjert won’t be able to funtion in the role as coach for us,” stated his oldest son Henrik Ingebrigsten in a press release issued Thursday. “From now on, we brothers will take care of our training ourselves.”
Newspaper Stavanger Aftenblad reported that brothers Henrik, Filip and Jakob recently returned to their home turf outside Stavanger after several weeks of seasonal training in the Sierra Nevada mountains of Spain. Henrik reported that both Jakob and Filip will now concentrate on an indoor season, taking part in competition in France in mid-February and Belgrade in March.
“We ask for understanding that we can’t go into the details of the situation right now,” Henrik said.
‘They’ll manage very well’
Their father, age 55, is known for being demanding and rarely satisfied, even after his sons have won gold medals at international sporting events for years. Vebjørn Rodal, a former Olympic gold-medal runner himself, told state broadcaster NRK that he thinks the Ingebrigtsen brothers are independent and will continue to do well.
“They’ll manage very well with Gjert in a reduced role,” Rodal said. “They’ve done so well and learned a lot along the way.” Henrik Ingebrigtsen, currently recovering from injury, may emerge as a running coach himself.
“There’s been talk that Henrik has coaching ambitions and it may be this is a sensible point in time to take over some of the steering,” Rodal said. Pappa Gjert’s withdrawal comes 18 months after Jakob won Olympic gold in the 1500-meter race in Tokyo.
‘I don’t want to be yelled at…’
Gjert and Tone Ingebrigtsen have seven children, ranging in age from Henrik at 30 to William, age 8. Younger members of the large Ingebrigtsen family have dropped out of racing, though, with Ingrid Ingebrigtsen calling it quits and eight-year-old William complaining that he was “tired to being yelled at” all the time. He’s still keen on running, but also enjoys football. Gjert has said he can choose his own course when he’s old enough.
“He (young William) has asked me why I’m so angry all the time,” Gjert told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) recently. “I have clarified that I’m not really angry, but if I have an agreement with someone (including his sons) and they don’t hold up their end of the agreement, I get sad, which he (William) inteprets as anger.”
William said he would like to have his father as coach, “because he’s very good at coaching people, but I don’t want to be yelled at, at every training session. That’s exhausting.”