Here comes Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 14-year-old record-breaker runner

Photo: Jakob Ingebrigtsen / Facebook Despite being a hot sensation, the youngest Ingebrigtsen runner keeps his cool.

Photo: Jakob Ingebrigtsen / Facebook
Despite being a hot sensation, the youngest Ingebrigtsen runner keeps his cool.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

It’s been quite a month for 14-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen, the younger brother of Norwegian runners Henrik and Filip Ingebrigtsen. In the first two weeks of June alone, the Sandnes athlete has set records for his age in the 1500 m, 3000 m, and 800 m races and become the youngest athlete to participate in Oslo’s Bislett Games. Considering all of his recent achievements as a teenage athlete, it’s no surprise that he’s being called the Martin Ødegaard of track and field.

Coming from such a prominent family in Norway’s track and field’s scene, the youngest Ingebrigtsen was destined to start his career at a young age. In fact, he’s been referred to as a running phenomenon ever since he was 10 and ran the 8.2 km Siddisløpet race in under 30 minutes. And as Jakob’s running career progresses, his potential continues to skyrocket.

On June 4, Jakob certainly demonstrated this potential at the Jessheim 1500 m event. Starting in the B-heat, Jakob surprised everyone with his incredible time of 3:50.57. With this performance, he beat the world record for 14-year-olds by three seconds and improved his personal record by seven seconds. And this is no small feat; the record was last set by Canadian Kevin Sullivan almost 27 years ago.

“It’s nuts,” said Henrik Ingebrigtsen when asked about his little brother’s performance. “He ran so fast that I wouldn’t have believed it if you had told me in the winter. He ran at least three seconds faster than I thought was possible,” he continued.

A week later, Jakob joined the world’s elite athletes at the 50th anniversary of the Bislett Games, an IAAF Diamond League event held annually at Oslo’s Bislett Stadion. He became the youngest ever participant in the Bislett Games when he ran in the national 1500 m race on June 11.

The race didn’t go as well as he had hoped, however. After almost falling at the beginning of the race, Jakob ended up in the back of the pack and finished in last place with a time of 3:53.80. Of course this was a bigger race than Jakob is used to and he admits that his nerves got to him. “I noticed that I was more nervous than normal,” he said. “This is much bigger than anything I have participated in yet.”

Just one day after the Bislett Games, Jakob went on to break the 3000 m Norwegian record for 15-year-olds at the Tyrvinglekene event. With his time of 8:25.90, he beat the previous record by eight seconds.

Jakob was of course pleased with his victory, but felt he could have done even better. “A fine run from my side. I could have clearly run a good deal faster,” he said after the race.

He had a chance to show off his speed on Saturday as he competed in the 800 m race. He already held the record in the 800 m, but he broke his own record by two seconds with his impressive time of 1:53.83.

Now that Jakob holds the record for his age in the 800 m, 1500 m, and 3000 m, he has a new goal: to beat Henrik’s record for 16-year-olds. And he’s almost there at 14.

“I know that I’m going to take Henrik’s record and the world record before I turn 15 in September. If I had known that I was so close to Henrik’s time, I would have pushed a little harder in this race,” he told Aftenposten.

Gjert Ingebrigtsen expects his youngest son to outperform Henrik’s youth results. “Jakob is many years ahead of Henrik in his development and has a completely unique potential.” He continues to explain how Jakob’s training has differed from Henrik’s: “His training has been more specialized to running than Henrik’s at the same age, who trained more hours but also with more versatility.”

Henrik is looking forward to training together with Jakob and watching him progress. But of course he also wants to keep his lead over his little brother. “I think he’s going to be lightning fast, but if I just keep running faster, he hopefully won’t beat me again,” said Henrik.

The National Championships are coming up on August 1, and it’s quite likely that the three Ingebrigtsen brothers will end up racing against each other. Jakob may be only 14, but it looks like Filip and Henrik need to watch their backs!

This article originally appeared in the June 26, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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