World Athletics Championships 2019: Team Ingebrigtsen – not your average Norwegian family
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From Mike Henson
Some minutes from the Ingebrigtsen family video collection are famous.
There was time midway through last summer m final in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium if 17-year-old Jakob high-fived older brother Henrik before storming to gold.
In 2017, their Filip – younger compared to Henrik and older than Jakob – collapsed over the lineup at the Olympic Stadium of London as he became the first European to win a world medal in 14 decades.
In March, Henrik dived full length with Jakob taking success once again, at a dramatic, if unsuccessful, attempt to throw the silver medal at the European Indoor Championships at Glasgow from Britain’s Chris O’Hare.
Others are less well known.
Filmed more than a decade past, there opens a shaky camera shot with three Ingebrigtsen brothers in frame.
On the left, Henrik. To the best, Filip. The earliest of their family’s seven kids.
Huddled around a desk, the teens, sporting tracksuits, review a current childhood event in which Kristoffer finished eighth.
“Let’s hear how it went in Oslo. Let us start with Kristoffer,” says a voice off screen.
“No,” replies Kristoffer, glowering down the lens.
“This was a great trip. You didn’t have any objectives, did you? Can you?” Says the voice.
“No, no more!” Says Kristoffer, growing increasingly annoyed.
The voice asks the boys to outline their goals.
“And Kristoffer?” It enquires following his sisters have had his or her say.
“We shall try to not come past,” interjects Henrik.
“I won’t come in last!” Yells Kristoffer, aiming an elbow to his brother’s biceps.
It’s a picture of the building of European sports’ family dynasty.
The European name that Jakob won from 2018 had been passed from Filip, that was victorious two years before to him. He subsequently succeeded Henrik, who topped the podium at Helsinki 2012.
All 3 head for the week’s World Championships in Doha, with Filip and Jakob serious contenders for awards and Henrik linking them.
Where this sudden geyser of sporting achievement sprung from is not as clear.
Surely, climbing up in Sandnes facing to the North Sea, the Ingebrigtsens’ spirit was almost claustrophobic.
Kristoffer, Henrik, Filip, together with the younger Jakob and Martin, would race each other getting in and outside of the car, when they were not fighting for supremacy on bicycles at the swimming pool or around the track.
13, their sister Ingrid, is now training as an athlete. William, for running shoes on his ultrasound scan, jokingly piled up, is yet to begin a sports career, but remains only five.
Professional sport’s family tradition is profound.
Their dad – himself increased in a single-parent home that is bad – is a logistics director. Tone, their mom, owns a pair of hairdressing salons.
“I’m not particularly interested in sport,” Gjert tells BBC Sport.
“We’re a normal family with a great deal of children. We spent a lot of time outside, skiing, hiking around, visiting the mountains, cross-country skiing, exercising outdoors… but it is by coincidence. We never planned for anything”
As his sons’ game has grown more severe has Gjert. He’s now representative, manager and trainer, dictating their event calendar, gruelling coaching sessions that are high-tempo and commercial prices.
“It may be that I am rather strict in how I view things,” he reflects.
“The boys come to me and say:’I want to be a European winner.’ I say:’I wish to assist you, I can help you, but you need to do everything that I tell you.’
“If you do not, I cannot have part of it. My aim is to see the children succeed, to reach their goals. I reach mine, if they accomplish their objectives.
“I stand out of different parents. I’m very demanding and it’s a sort of contract between the boys to help them be the best they can be but they must endure me after them daily each year.”
By entering in that deal, Jakob, Filip and Henrik have marketed themselves entirely.
Filip recalls waking to do an hour of lactic-heavy roller ski – a version of cross-country skiing – until he headed to school.
Henrik remembers asking his father to prepare sessions in the afternoons in addition to the mornings. His father agreed, however, told them not to tell teachers unless they grew concerned that he had been pushing them too difficult.
There is nothing covert about their devotion today. Each September, Gjert generates a training plan for the subsequent 12 months, laminating it to avoid any alterations. He is going to be trackside, barking orders and collating specifics of his sons’ advancement and retrieval at a spreadsheet.
Within a bid to tempt sponsors to fund the brothers’ livelihood, Gjert defeated his sons’ reluctance and enabled tv to take a reality series.
Team Ingebrigtsen catches the anxieties which continue together with Gjert’s single-minded hold on his family.
In a awkward spectacle, Filip accuses him of conducting a”dictatorship” as a trip to southern Europe with his girlfriend, who’s sitting in the room, is quashed in favour of coaching.
In another, eldest son Kristoffer – who’d deny athletics to get a career in economics and a family life of his own – calls his own parents”idiotic” for getting their seventh child, William, 25 years following his own birth.
“I believe they’re doing so instead of going back and focusing on relationships with the children they already have,” he adds caustically.
Gjert gives as good as he’s got.
He looks down the barrel at the same stage and states:”I don’t wish to be an angry man, I want to be a dad.
“However, if an angry man will bring them their fantasies, I’ll bear that forfeit.”
He is far from the first athletic dad to intertwine his achievement with that of his kids.
Mary Pierce andre Agassi and the Williams sisters are among the tennis celebrities who were driven to stardom by father figures, however there are risks as well as rewards.
As fans of Lewis Hamilton particularly, and motorsport in general, Henrik, Filip and Jakob will understand the story of his father and the Formula 1 world champion.
Hamilton sacked his father as his representative in 2010 after he had masterminded his rise to the surface. The pair barely spoke for the subsequent two years, but have slowly reconciled, with the motorist quoted in July as saying their connection is the”best we have ever had”.
Would the ends of sporting careers justify Gjert daddy act?
Much of their impetus for his children’s athletics comes from is adapting to the culture of their household and inside themselves?
There’s absolutely not any simple answer. There is no answer.
“He could always be my dad. You can’t take off that hat and say I am your mentor,” says Filip. “It is difficult, but I believe, all in all, it is much more positives than negatives. He offers more as a coach because he is also a father – he constantly wants me to perform my best and also has my best interests at heart.”
Jakob’s take is a little different.
“There are lots of ups and downs and drawbacks and positive about using a dad for a coach.,” he says. “For other athletes I wouldn’t recommend it because it is too much hard work and you also want a dad outside of conducting.
“For now, and basically our whole lives, he’s been a coach because we’ve asked ourselves what’s the most important – do we wish to have a family or do we want to run fast?”
Sons that run relationships that hold fast. Gjert, who’s written a book entitled How To Boost Your World Champion, will hope both visions are realised in Doha. And past.
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