Jakob Ingebrigtsen says Josh Kerr’s “desperate attempt” at psychological warfare may look “silly at somepoint” as he knows he wins “98 out of 100 times” against Kerr and Wightman

"I know that I win 98 out of 100 times against them. Hopefully it will be a long time until next time. But we never know when time number 99 will come."

Stavanger Aftenblad, a Norwegian daily, has a feature story out on Jakob Ingebrigtsen where the reporter Erlend Nesje went to Ingebrigtsen’s new house to catch up with him as he works his way back from injury. If you subscribe, you can read it here. I am a subscriber and have read it with the help of Google Translate and will now give you the highlights.

From a running front, there is good news to report.  The article describes Ingebrigtsen’s injury problems of late as “a muscle in the groin and inflammation of the membrane around the right Achilles.” Podiatrist Amol Saxena, who has consulted with the Ingebritsens in the past and who has operated on scores of pro runners including Galen Rupp, Dathan Ritzenhein, Pat Porter, Ciarán O’Lionaird, and Aisha Praught Leer (and this author), has confirmed to LetsRun.com that Ingebrigtsen definitely did not tear his Achilles — that it’s just a “sheath issue.”

Saxena told LetsRun.com that injuries involving the paratenon (the thin layer of tissue that surrounds the tissue) normally turn the corner after about 3 months and that 90% of the time they don’t require surgery. The good news is even if surgery is required, Saxena has published a paper that says 97% of the time, the athlete will be able to return to full activity. Many can begin running 7 weeks after surgery but Saxena said Pat Porter returned to running just 3 weeks after surgery.

Nesje watched Ingebrigtsen finish up a treadmill run where he covered 15.05 kilometers (9.352 miles) in one hour and a few seconds so that means Ingebrigtsen cruised for an hour at roughly 6:25.5 mile pace. Ingebrigtsen comes across as very upbeat in the article.

“I am very confident that I have not lost anything. In addition, I have many training hours ‘in the bank.’ It will be good in the Olympics,” said Ingebrigtsen according to Google Translate. Ingebrigtsen said he’s planning on going to an altitude camp in mid-March (either Flagstaff or  Sierra Nevada in Spain) and then fly directly from there to the Pre Classic on May 25.

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Ingebrigtsen is confident for Paris as he believes he was way off his best in the 1500 final in Budapest.

“It is an enormous level of 1500. There were probably five or six who were initially better than those who won a medal. But it will always be the case that some overperform and others underperform. And when I run 2.5 seconds slower than what I am good for, for various reasons, I am clearly dissatisfied with my own performance,” said Jakob.

A good portion of the article focuses on how Ingebrigtsen, who made it clear he didn’t want to talk about the conflict he’s had with his father and former coach Gjert, tries to not waste energy on non-running things. Ingebrigtsen is good at compartmentalizing and uses the analogy of an imaginary glass wall in front of him that keeps non-running things from impacting his performance.

Focused on Performance

“Everything other than myself is irrelevant to my sports career. It’s about optimizing. I could certainly participate in podcasts, be a guest on Lindmo and other talk shows. But I just want to run!” says Ingebrigtsen, who pointed out without directly calling it a negative that there are downsides to fame as he’s aware whenever he goes out that people are pointing at him and whispering about him.

The newspaper promoted the article by focusing on how people whisper about Ingebrigtsen at the Gardermoen (Oslo airport)

When Nesje asked Ingebrigtsen if it’s important to be visible as an athlete, he responded, “Maybe. I could have 10 million followers on Instagram if I went for it … [I have] just over half a million. But again, that’s irrelevant. That is not what is important to me. Take finance, for example. I could post all kinds of weird things on Snapchat and probably triple my income. But that doesn’t give me peace of mind, for me optimizing running is the most important thing.”

Along those lines, Ingebrigtsen told Nesje that he hasn’t read online newspapers for several years and that he’s not very active on social media but he “gets it” when there is something important to learn about. And it’s clear that Jakob is aware of some of the recent comments from 2023 world 1500 champion Josh Kerr.

The back-and-forth began after Ingebrigtsen’s victory in the 5,000 meters in Budapest, when Ingebrigtsen was asked in the mixed zone if he would try to race Kerr again to avenge his defeat in the 1500 final.

“If I hadn’t run in the final, he would probably have won,” Ingebrigtsen said in Budapest. “That’s how I see the race. Obviously, if you stumble or fall then someone is going to win the race and he was just the next guy.”

Kerr called those comments “disrespectful” ahead of the following week’s Zurich Diamond League and since then, Kerr has said that Ingebrigtsen has “major weaknesses” but may not be aware of them as he’s surrounded by “yes men” and that Jakob also has “flaws in the manners realm.”

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Jakob Responds To Josh Kerr’s Comments

The reporter asked Ingebrigtsen about some of Kerr’s comments and here’s how it went according to Google Translate:

– World Cup winner Josh Kerr called you disrespectful after your statement that he was “just the next guy”?

– I realized that there was “something,” but I can’t quite say what it was.

– Is there a psychological game going on before an Olympic final?

– Let’s call it a desperate attempt. And I don’t think that was so smart. It might look silly at some point.

Near the end of the article, Ingebrigten had a quote that may end up being bulletin board material for both Kerr and 2022 world champ Jake Wightman.

– Do you have a strong desire for revenge after being beaten by two Britons in two different World Cups?

– I’m pretty sure I’ll win next time anyway.

– Why?

– I know that I win 98 out of 100 times against them. Hopefully it will be a long time until next time. But we never know when time number 99 will come.

There was one other interesting comment from Ingebrigtsen in the article. When the reporter noted how fellow Norwegian Narve Nordås also ran well and got a medal in Budapest and that it felt as if half the nation was cheering for each runner, much like Sebastian Coe vs. Steve Ovett 40 years ago, Ingebrigtesn responded by saying, “Yes, it was nice. I’m a big fan of good performances. But is it the case that you have to love one and hate the other? Look at Messi vs. Ronaldo, why does it have to be either or? Why can’t one just enjoy good performances? Humans are weird, and that’s fascinating.”

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MB:  Jakob Ingebrigtsen on Wightman / Kerr: “I know that I win 98 out of 100 times against them.”

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