Saturday, August 11, 2018

Crazy Good

Teen Sensation Jakob Ingebrigtsen Wins the 5000
Completes the 1500/5000 Double

by Mark Cullen

copyright 2018, Mark Cullen/, all rights reserved

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen did the impossible again tonight.

The 17 year old distance running phenomenon won the European 5,000m title in decisive fashion in much the same way he won the 1500m the night before – with a sustained searing surge followed by a kick which left veterans far older and more experienced in his wake.

Brother Henrik took silver in 13:18.75, while Jakob’s winning time of 13:17.06 is a personal and European U-20 record. France’s Morhad Amdouni won bronze in 13:19.14.

Ingebrigsten ran in the middle of the pack until he took the lead with 1200m to go. At this point it could be reasonably asked if he was repeating last night’s successful strategy or if he was setting himself up to be outkicked while running on tired legs. The answer came quickly.

He continued to lead with two laps left, and as he put down the pedal, the chase group bunched behind him at 600m, but no one would pass. Jakob and brother Henrik surged away from the pack as they rounded the top of the curve with 350m to go and as a family team, they were never headed. The only issue was who would win, and that issue was not in doubt for long.

They gave each other an enormous embrace after crossing the finish line.

“He is crazy good,” said brother Henrik over the stadium public address system.

“You’re always nervous – if you’re not nervous, you’ll do a bad race. That’s just how it is,” said the track and field sensation of the year.

“You need to have the nerves because that way you’ll concentrate and focus on what you have ahead of you. I felt really confident going into today’s race and also yesterday. I know what I’m capable of and I know what shape I’m in, so yes, I was looking forward to racing here in Berlin and it worked out pretty good.”

When asked by an Austrian journalist what his readers should know about him, the supremely confident Ingebrigsten turned out to be more comfortable speaking about his running than speaking about himself, and he masterfully moved the discussion back to running. He answered:

“I’ve lived as a professional runner since I was five years old. Everything I’ve done I’ve prepared for being one of the best runners in the world. Not many people have believed (he laughs) in me and my family’s thoughts but that has been the main goal to be one of the best runners. Now I’m 17 and European champion and this is one step in the right direction to become one of the best runners in the world.”

“I’d like to ask you about history, please,” I said.

“History?” He seemed surprised.

“Context for what you have done. It was already true last night that the defining performance of this meet (was your 1500m win)... Now you have the double... Where do you think this fits?”

“I’m not that old," he said with a laugh, "so I don’t have that much experience when it comes to history and athletics but I know all the big names. I know all the world records and all the huge accomplishments for other athletes. I know what it means to be a European Champion and to be a runner in the 1500m at a high level. I know what it takes. I know that me and Henrik and Filip has put down a lot – a lot – a lot of work. I know that we have earned these medals.”


“Thank you so much.”

Two-time European Champion
Seventeen year old Jakob Ingebrigtsen of Norway

photo courtesy of Getty Images via Berlin

History question edited and clarified 12:45pm, 8/12/2018


  1. Hi Mark, hope you arrive home safely.
    Your caption on Nafi's name in her Queen of Heptathlon photo was incorrect. Her name should read Nafissatou Thiam.

    Kevin Hii

  2. Yikes! Thank you so much for calling this to my attention - I truly appreciate it, Kevin. It takes a village! Mark

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