By Chris Chavez
October 20, 2023
Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen and his brothers, Henrik and Filip, co-authored an article for the Norwegian newspaper VG, where they accuse their father, Gjert, of violent and abusive behavior. The brothers stopped being coached by their father in 2022.
Here’s what you need to know:
– The Ingebrigtsen brothers wrote (translated from Norwegian): “We have grown up with a father who has been very aggressive and controlling and who has used physical violence and threats as part of his upbringing. We still feel discomfort and fear which has been in us since childhood…Somehow we have accepted this. We have lived with it, and in adulthood we have moved on. At least we thought so. In retrospect, we realize that it was naive. But two years ago, the same aggression and physical punishment struck again. It was the drop that made the cup run over.”
– Gjert responded in a statement through his lawyer (also translated): “The statements they make are baseless. I have never used violence against my children. That I have weaknesses as a father, and have been too much of a coach, is a realization I have also come to, albeit far too late. I am far from perfect as a father and husband, but I am not violent. First of all, this is a tragic situation for my family – that we have come to the point where we are spreading false accusations against each other in the media. It makes me deeply unhappy. How we are going to get past this I don’t know, but we have to try.”
– The Ingebrigtsen family’s rise to success was televised in Norway with the television show “Team Ingebrigtsen” – which ran for five seasons and through Jakob’s 1500m victory at the Tokyo Olympics. Gjert announced that he was stepping away from coaching due to medical reasons in February 2022.
– The Ingebrigtsen brothers have been coaching themselves since early 2022. Gjert eventually returned to coaching and is working with Narve Gilje Nordås, a fellow Norwegian middle-distance runner who has rapidly emerged as one of Jakob’s biggest rivals and claimed a bronze medal in the 1500m at the 2023 World Championships.
– Gjert was denied accreditation by the Norwegian Athletics Federation for the 2023 World Championships in Budapest. Gjert will also not be accredited for the 2024 World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, the European Championships in Rome and the 2024 Paris Olympics.
"It’s been almost two years since the three brothers broke away from being coached by their father, Gjert. There has been speculation about what unfolded, but until recently, there had been no explanation given by the sons themselves. Jakob is normally delighted to speak in the mixed zone and willing to give thoughtful answers to almost any question, but anyone with a microphone was forewarned after every race this year not to ask about that aspect of his personal life.
An additional subplot is that Gjert has been working with another Norwegian athlete, Narve Gilje Nordas, who finished one place behind Jakob at the World Championships in third. (As you might expect, the two did not speak on the podium.) The Ingebrigtsen sons understandably would not like their estranged father credentialed under the Norwegian Federation, given the nature of the abuse they allege they endured from him over the years.
Everything that Jakob has accomplished over the past two years is made even more remarkable in light of what we now know he’s been dealing with behind the scenes. The whole situation is obviously sad and unfortunate, and it also serves as a reminder that while great success requires great sacrifice, this is not an enviable trade." – Kyle Merber via The Lap Count
Chris Chavez launched CITIUS MAG in 2016 as a passion project while working full-time for Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and grew his humble blog into a multi-pronged media company. He completed all six World Marathon Majors and is an aspiring sub-five-minute miler.