Norway’s newest World Champion athlete has been viewed as “cocky and arrogant” once again, but feels he’s been misunderstood. Jakob Ingebrigtsen insists he simply wants to do his best, and was only happy after he won a gold medal at the World Athletic Championships in Eugene, Oregon on Sunday.
Ingebrigtsen, the youngest of three Norwegian brothers who’ve all been top runners, was finally satisfied after he’d dominated the men’s 5,000-meter race and won it with a time of 13 minutes, 9.24 seconds. “This was fun, and it was fun to not only win it at the end of the race,” the 21-year-old Ingebrigtsen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) after it was all over. “I felt I won the whole race. It was incredibly great.”
He’d also won both the 5,000- and the 1,500-meter race at the European Championships in 2018, and a gold medal in the 1,500-meter at the Tokyo Olympics. He was therefore bitterly disappointed last week when he “only” won silver in the 1,500-meter in Eugene last week. “It’s just awful,” he called his silver medal. “Unfortunately it’s stupid to say that, World Championship silver is an incredibly great thing to achieve, (but) at the same time, I was beaten by people who are worse than me. I’m disappointed in myself.”
Such comments weren’t well-received and he attracted criticism for how he handled a second-place finish. After winning the 5,000 meter, Ingebrigtsen fired back:
“People can say what they want, but when I don’t win and I can do better than I did, for example last week, then I’m damn disappointed,” Ingebrigtsen told NRK. “I have the right to feel that way, because I know I could have done better, and then it’s a disappointment.”
He agreed with his older brother and coach Henrik, who told NRK that “many misunderstand (the satisfaction of only winning) and think it’s cocky and arrogant (to downplay a silver medal), as if you’ve got exaggerated self-confidence, but that’s what it takes to be a winner, whether you like it or not.” Jakob said it doesn’t bother him much, “but I know I’m misunderstood. I’m not so stupid that I don’t know what people think.”
In an effort to make himself understood, he added that “I’m not dissatisfied that I got a silver medal, I’m dissatisfied that I didn’t do my best. For me, that’s the worst thing that could happen, the worst feeling in the world.”
His dissatisfaction after the 1,500-race last week plagued him until the start of Sunday’s 5,000-meter race (which took place during very early morning hours of Monday in Norway). He was delighted with his gold in the 5,000-meter, but couldn’t resist telling NRK that “it’s pretty good overall, but a silver and a gold could have been two golds.”
Jakob Ingebrigtsen took time, though, to thank “everyone around me,” including his partner Elisabeth (Aaserson), older brothers Henrik and Filip “and everyone in the support apparatus who make sure my body is at 100 percent and that I’m ‘on’ when I need to be and do the job.” The brothers’ father Gjert was long the coach of all three of them, but stepped down last year for health reasons and after reported conflicts within the family.
Older brother Henrik was impressed with Jakob: “He looked so strong out there, and sprang perfectly. The race was like a gift that allowed Jakob to take command with three rounds left, and steer himself in to solid gold.” NRK commentator Jann Post was even more impressed: “Jakob Ingebrigtsen is the king of long distance. The world’s best runner is Norwegian. He crushed the others, they didn’t have a chance.”