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Jakob Ingebrigtsen won’t be satisfied until he’s the fastest ever

The 20-year-old Norwegian phenom has already had an incredible career, but he's hungry for a lot more

In a video recently published by European Athletics, Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen discusses his career and his hopes for the future. The multiple national and European record holder has had an amazing career so far, and he’s only 20. This short video is a great chance to see the mindset of Ingebrigtsen, which is certainly a contributing factor to his many successes on the race course. He outlines his goal for the future in the video, and while it is quite simple to explain, it will be far from easy for him to reach: he wants to be the fastest runner ever

A family focus 

It’s easy to look at Ingebrigtsen and his older brothers Henrik, 29, and Filip, 27, both accomplished runners themselves, and think they have a natural talent for running. That certainly could be part of their success, but Ingebrigtsen doesn’t think so. “You’re not born with talent,” he says. Instead, he says it comes down to your effort and how much work you put into the sport. “When I was four, five, six years old, people said that I had more talent than them, but I’d already run maybe 10 times more than the people I was competing against.” 

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Ingebrigtsen talks about his family’s focus, which is less on running and more on winning. From a young age, he watched his brothers run and he decided he had to beat them one day. After chasing them for years, he has accomplished that goal, as Ingebrigtsen has a faster PB than his brothers in every event he has raced in his career except for the mile (a race in which Filip and Henrik have both run faster than their younger brother). 

Hard to satisfy 

Ingebrigtsen expects a lot from himself, and this mindset can leave him disappointed even when he performs well. He points to the 2017 European U20 Championships in Grosseto, Italy. “I don’t look back at Grosseto as a good championship,” he says. He fell in the 1,500m and couldn’t recover, ultimately finishing in eighth place. Even though he ran to a pair of gold medals in the 5,000m and 3,000m steeplechase later on in the week, Ingebrigtsen still considers that campaign to be a negative experience. 

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The following year, his father (and coach) asked him what his goals were for the season. Just 17 years old, Ingebrigtsen said he wanted to win at the senior European Championships. He says his father scoffed, telling him to be serious, but Ingebrigtsen wasn’t joking. His goal was to win gold, and that’s exactly what he did. Several months later, at the European Championships in Berlin, he ran to gold in the 1,500m and 5,000m, beating his brothers in both races. 

Ingebrigtsen has had a legendary career already, and he’s still so young. Now just 20, he still has many years of running ahead of him, and although he has some incredible achievements to his name already, he says he wants a lot more. “My dream is to be as good a runner as I can be, to win as much as possible and to run as fast as possible,” he says. “I wouldn’t say that I’m 100 per cent satisfied if I’m not the fastest ever. I think I can go faster. But only time will tell if I’m able to.” It’s a big goal, but aiming to beat his older brothers when he was a young boy and to win at the European Championships as a 17-year-old were both lofty dreams, too, and he still managed to do both. 

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