After winning world 5000m title the Norwegian is not motivated by end-of-season head-to-head with man who beat him to 1500m gold in Budapest
Jakob Ingebrigtsen has no immediate interest in gaining revenge on Josh Kerr despite losing to the Briton in the world 1500m final in Budapest. The Norwegian successfully defended his world 5000m title on Sunday (Aug 28) after struggling with illness all week and when asked by AW whether he would enjoy the idea of taking on Kerr soon he said “no”.
He added: “He (Kerr) was just ‘the next guy’. If I hadn’t run in the final, he would probably have won. 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.”
There were shades of 2022 when Ingebrigtsen made similar comments after Jake Wightman beat him to the world 1500m title before he won 5000m gold a few days later in Eugene. On that occasion he implied he was a superior athlete who was simply not at his best and after being outkicked by Wightman said: “I’m embarrassed being this good but also this bad.”
Certainly there would be opportunities for a rematch with Kerr in Diamond Leagues in Zurich, Brussels, Eugene or even over one mile at the World Road Running Champs in Latvia on October 1.
Kerr found the form of his life in Budapest and enjoyed near-perfect preparation in what he called a “boxing style camp” where no stone was left unturned and he lost weight with a strict diet devised by a new nutritionist. In comparison Ingebrigtsen says he had the best preparation of his life leading up to Budapest but was struck by a virus in the final days before his races which left him below his best.
Kerr’s victory over Ingebrigtsen was the first time the Briton had beaten him in nine races dating back to their first clash at the World Under-20 Championships in Poland in 2016, when Ingebrigtsen, who was only 15 at the time, finished ninth in the 1500m final just one place and 14 hundredths of a second ahead of Kerr.
Ingebrigtsen was still bothered by his illness during Sunday night’s 5000m final on the last night of the 2023 World Championships. “I’m definitely not 100%,” he said. “I still feel a bit swollen up in my throat.”
He had to pull out all the stops as well to overtake Mo Katir of Spain in the final metres to win gold in 13:11.30. The early stages of the race were very slow but it wound up in the latter stages and Ingebrigtsen drew deep into his reserves to run a last 800m in 1:50.65, final lap in 52.45 and last 200m in 26.34 before hitting the front for the first time in the race in the closing metres to pull past a Spanish runner who had beaten the Norwegian’s European 5000m record in the run-up to the championships.
Katir ran 13:11.44 with Jacob Krop taking bronze in 13:12.28 as Luis Grijalva of Guatemala fourth and then the Ethiopian pair of Yomif Kejelcha and Hagos Gebrhiwet, then Mo Ahmed of Canada in seventh and another Ethiopian, Berihu Aregawi, in eighth.
“I tried to run as smart as I could and conserve as much energy as possible and I think I did that fairly well,” said Ingebrigtsen. “I didn’t feel 100% today either and my mental awareness in the race is probably a little worse than it would if I felt good.”
The Ethiopians and Katir have been in spectacularly fast form on the Diamond League circuit this summer so it was odd that they did not try to force the pace to test the Olympic 1500m champion, especially when they knew he had been ill. It was reminiscent of the east Africans failing to fully test Mo Farah with a very fast pace time and time again and instead allowing the Briton to take the lead in the final couple of laps before sprinting clear to take 10 consecutive global track titles.
It was, however, very warm and this may have dissuaded them from forcing the pace. Such were the conditions, Narve Nordås, the Norwegian bronze medallist in the 1500m a few days earlier, was 14th in only 13:28.73 whereas Paul Chelimo, the Night of the 10,000m PBs winner in London in May, was 15th in 13:30.88.
“I would say it’s bittersweet. I’m very happy to win the 5000m but for me I find it more important to do my best.”
Jakob Ingebrigtsen reflects on a World Championships where he claimed 5000m gold and silver in the 1500m 💬
The Norwegian has mixed feelings 🇳🇴
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) August 27, 2023
Summing up his championships, Ingebrigtsen said: “It’s bittersweet. I’m very happy to win the 5000m but for me I find it’s more important to do my best and I was not able to do that at this championship because of the virus and everything. For me that’s more important than winning medals because I believe in myself and if I do my best I believe I am going to win most of my races.”
He added: “It’s been a great championship with great crowds, great city and a great event in general but I will try not to be in this situation again.”
On his illness, he said: “There was not much I can do. I skipped two easy jog runs and focused on sleeping in my room instead and to do as little as possible. After that it was all about hydration and nutrition.”
READ MORE: The story of Josh Kerr’s world 1500m win
Katir came close to winning but seemed satisfied with silver. “I gave all that I have,” he said. “But you know, Jakob is Jakob. He is the best in the world nowadays. In the 1500m I could not get him, but in the 5000m I was really close to beating him.
“Every year, I am getting closer and closer. Last year I finished with a bronze, now with a silver. Next year is Olympic year, so we will see if I can continue this step-by-step improvement and finally achieve a full collection of medals.”
As for Krop, the Kenyan said: “I am still only 22 so to get two medals from the world championships is a big honour. I do not think this bronze after the silver in Eugene is a step down. I am still among the top runners over 5000m.”
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