World 1500m bronze medallist Filip Ingebrigtsen has emerged as a world-class performer over the past couple of seasons. A key turning point for the 24-year-old came when winning the European 1500m title in 2016.
The 2016 season was make or break for me. In 2014 I had struggled with a liver infection and then coming into the 2015 season I suffered a stress fracture of the foot. I was so frustrated, I told myself 2016 is my last chance. If I don’t make it this year, then it is over.
“As soon as I picked up the stress fracture of the foot, I did everything I could to be ready and fully fit for 2016. To recover, I worked four to five hours a day of alternative training such as aqua-jogging. I left no stone unturned to go up to the next level. By the time of the autumn of 2015 I could really feel the benefit. I had put in a solid foundation which set me up well for 2016. I never had a bad session from November to December time and I was confident it was possible to run fast in 2016 with the main target the European Championships in Amsterdam.
“I raced faster with each race in 2016 and by the time I got to the Europeans I was hoping for a medal, yet I knew I had to take it one step at a time. At the 2014 Europeans, I had not even qualified for the final, so I had to first focus on my heat. I felt strong in the first round and as I passed the leader I pushed down the pedal because I wanted to see how strong I was and I took the heat win.
“I felt very relaxed between the heat and the final, although on the day of the final I felt like I was starting to get sick, so I had a couple of hours’ sleep during the middle of the day. My father (and coach, Gjert) had actually said to one of the Norwegian broadcasters – although I wasn’t aware of it until after the race – that he thought I would win the gold medal and if my brother, Henrik, was lucky he could win a medal too. People made a big deal of this later.
“The final was one of those rare races when I felt the field could try anything but I did not think I could be beaten. When I later looked back on the race video, I realised I was in some risky positions in the race, although I never felt that way at the time. At the bell, many athletes battled to be in the right position but I remained relaxed and moved closer to the front down the back stretch. I was waiting for the other guys to accelerate but it turned out they were at max speed.
“As we came into the bend, I waited until I was 100% sure I would win. I then moved wide and took the lead. It was strange because it was like I was not tired at all. It was like I was running strides in training down the home straight.
“It was unreal to cross that line in first place with my brother in bronze. It was like I was in complete control. It meant so much to me because up until that point I hadn’t won too many races throughout my career. It was cool to win such a big race and very special to cross the finish line first.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF