It almost went unnoticed as his younger brother Jakob was in the midst of four days of running at the European Athletics U20 Championships that would eventually bring him an unprecedented 3000m steeplechase and 5000m double, but Filip Ingebrigtsen moved to the top of the European 1500m lists in Monaco last Friday.
In contrast to his brother, Filip has been somewhat under the radar since the start of the summer but the 2016 European 1500m champion has steadily improved and set a season’s best of 3:32.48 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in the Principality.
It was a bitter-sweet performance, confirming his fitness and readiness to do battle for the medals at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 – and potentially become the first European medallist in a world championships 1500m since Portugal’s Rui Silva took a bronze in 2005 – but he just missed his own personal best of 3:32.43 and also his brother Henrik's three-year-old national record of 3:31.46.
“I was really annoyed after the race. The runners in front of me slowed down at the wrong point. I was not even flat out. Oh, it was so bad tactical,” lamented Ingebrigtsen to the attendant Norwegian media after the race.
“I went too late [in the race]. I had a bunch of idiots in front of me who failed to keep up [with the pace]. I had to jog for three-and-a-half laps and then had to go around them in the outside lane when the pace climbed. If this is the best they [the rest of the world] can do, it will be fun during the world championships,” added the 24-year-old Ingebrigtsen, who eventually finished fourth in Monaco.
"Had it been faster in the early laps today, I could have taken the Norwegian record. I have a damn good feeling about the world championships now, and I have some aggression inside of me to do the best I can do there. But it does not help to be in good physical shape and so get over excited, as I did in the Olympics," he reflected, remembering how he was disqualified in Rio for pushing and impeding other runners.
"But I have acquired a lot of good experience since then, I was very new last year at this top level but now I notice that I am running better, and safer tactically, in each race and my shape is getting better and better."
Norway, and Europe, needs Ingebrigtsen to perform well in London. The 1500m in an event where Europe’s stars have not shone too brightly in the recent past.
Europe’s only world champion over what is often referred to as the metric mile was Great Britain’s Steve Cram at the inaugural edition of the world championships n 1983.
At the last world championships, two years ago in Beijing, the leading European and only finalist from the continent was Great Britain’s Charlie Grice, who finished ninth.
The situation was little better in Rio, where Grice and Spain’s David Bustos were the only Europeans to make the final there, finishing 13th and seventh respectively.
However, if Ingebrigtsen is true to his word and is getting faster and maturing tactically, he has all the tools to prosper in a championship final.
Like both his brothers, he possesses a turn of sped over the final 200m few other leading middle-distance runners have in their repertoire and it’s not beyond the bounds of reason that he could deliver Norway’s first medal on the track since Vebjorn Rodal got an 800m bronze in 1995… that is, unless Karsten Warholm makes the 400m hurdles podium four days earlier!