BERLIN (Reuters) - Jakob Ingebrigtsen added another chapter to one of the most outlandish stories in athletics on Saturday, winning the 5,000 metres at the age of 17 just 24 hours after becoming the youngest track champion in European Championships history.
And just to add to the fairytale, the first athlete ever to complete the 1500m/5000m double in the 84-year annals of the Championships was followed home by older brother Henrik, as the Ingebrigtsen boys were again the toast of Norway.
Ingebrigtsen used the searing pace that had helped him win the 1500 metres on Friday night to race away from the field in a modest-paced race with a scintillating last lap of 54.05 seconds.
“I’m 17 years old and already have two European titles at senior level. It was a little crazy to get this medal today, this is huge,” said Ingebrigtsen.
“Winning a second title in two days is the result of having done this my whole life.”
Former European 1500m champion Henrik, the oldest of the three Ingebrigtsen brothers, who are all trained by their father Gjert in the small Norwegian city of Sandnes and have become one of the most remarkable families in international sport, was left trailing down the home straight.
“I knew he would eventually become the best in Europe and the world, but that he could do it at 17, I couldn’t imagine in my wildest dreams,” 27-year-old Henrik told Eurosport. “He earned it; he didn’t just accidentally grab it.”
Hearing the praise, the modest Jakob shrugged: “It means a lot when he says that. To be able to do a Championships like this, it keeps me motivated to keep working even harder in the future.”
Filip Ingebrigtsen, the middle brother who had won the European 1500m title in 2016, had been due to compete in the 5,000 but the brothers revealed he had withdrawn because he had broken a rib when falling in the 1500m semi-final.
“This could only feel better if our brother Filip was here to take the bronze medal,” said Henrik. “But he is still part of the team, we’re all in this together.
“Both my victory and Jakob’s tonight will feel like a victory for him, too.
“In two years’ time, we will be back to win four medals, not just three. Right now, Jakob has two medals, and Filip and I have one each. We’re definitely coming back to improve the stats in our family.”
Jakob, a phenomenal talent who became the youngest ever sub-four minute miler at 16, won in 13 minutes 17.06 seconds, a European under-20 record, while Henrik clocked 13:18.75. Morhad Amdouni, of France, took bronze in 13:19.14.
The boys’ father had predicted the victory after Jakob’s 1500m win. “He can become a double champion here,” said Gjert Ingebrigtsen. “It’s quite ridiculous that he’s won, he’s only 17 years old. That’s madness!”
And the really bad news for the rest of the world outside the Ingebrigtsen household?
“There are no limits for us,” said Henrik. “We have another brother who is turning five years old, and soon can join the team.”
Reporting by Ian Chadband; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Pritha Sarkar