12:05 PM UTC – October 20, 2023
(Reuters) – Olympic 1,500 metres champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen and his brothers Filip and Henrik have accused their father and former coach Gjert Ingebrigtsen of physical violence and abusive behaviour in a column published in Norwegian newspaper VG.
Gjert Ingebrigtsen has denied the allegations.
The family rift has been the subject of speculation since Gjert announced in 2022 that he was stepping down as coach, not long after Jakob raced to Olympic gold in Tokyo.
Gjert had coached 23-year-old Jakob, Filip, 30 and Henrik, 32, throughout their childhood and for most of their careers.
“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,” they wrote in Thursday’s column.
“We now realise that is not possible. 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.”
Gjert Ingebrigtsen said through his lawyer: “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 realisation I have also come to, albeit far too late.”
The conflict reached boiling point recently when Gjert was denied accreditation by the Norwegian Athletics Association (NFIF) for the World Indoor Championships in March in Glasgow and the 2024 Paris Olympics.
He also did not attend Jakob’s wedding in September, according to media reports in Norway.
Jakob has had the most success in athletics, racing to gold in the 5,000m at the World Championships in 2022 in Eugene and this year in Budapest. He was the world silver medallist in the 1,500m at the 2022 and ’23 worlds.
Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Ken Ferris