Ingebrigtsen brothers accuse father of ‘physical violence and threats’

Their father, Gjert, has denied the claims, brandishing them as ‘baseless’

Ben Fleming
Friday 20 October 2023 10:42 BST
Related video: Jakob Ingebrigtsen runs third-fastest time in men's mile history

Jakob Ingebrigtsen has accused his father and former coach of physical violence and abusive behaviour in a statement alongside his two brothers, Filip and Henrik – an accusation that their father strenuously denies.

Olympic 1,500m champion Jakob, the youngest of the three siblings, shot to fame when he stormed to gold at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 aged just 20. The Norwegian middle-distance runner has since gone on to win two World Championship silvers and two golds in 2022 and 2023.

In 2022, Gjert Ingebrigtsen stepped down as coach of the three brothers for medical reasons. However, the rift became increasingly public when Gjert began coaching fellow Norwegian Narve Gilje Nordas, who is a main rival of Jakob heading into next year’s Olympics having won bronze at the World Championships in August.

Now, in an article for the publication VG, the brothers have gone public with historical claims of physical abuse about their father, suggesting “now the situation is unbearable.”

“When we broke up with Gjert, we thought we would be able to handle the situation in an orderly manner, without mentioning the underlying circumstances. We now realise that is not possible,” the statement said.

“This matter has become so inflamed and has had such a great consequence that we feel a responsibility to clean it up.

“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 realise 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.”

As well as guiding Jakob to Olympic gold, Gjert also coached both older brothers to the European 1,500m title. The three brothers and their father had a very public relationship as the stars of a Norwegian reality TV show, Team Ingebrigtsen, but the trio now say they don’t have the “capacity or desire” to interact with him.

Jakob pictured with one of his brothers, Filip.
Jakob pictured with one of his brothers, Filip. (Getty)

Gjert has already been denied accreditation for the upcoming World Indoor Championships and European Championships next year, with the Norwegian Athletics Federation set to recommend the same fate for the Olympic Games in Paris.

In a statement released by his lawyers, Gjert has strenuously denied the claims, saying: “The statements they make are baseless. I have never used violence against my children. That I have had weaknesses as a father, and to a great extent been a coach, is a realization I have also come to – albeit far too late.

“I’m far from perfect as a father and husband, but I’m not violent. First and foremost, this is a tragic situation for my family – we have reached the point where we are spreading false accusations against each other in the media. It makes me deeply unhappy. How we’re going to get past this, I don’t know, but we’ve got to try.”

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