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Father and former coach of Olympic champion charged with child abuse, lawyer says

  • The father and former coach of Olympic champion runner Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Gjert Ingebrigtsen, has been charged with abusing one of his other children.
  • Jakob Ingebrigtsen, along with his brothers Henrik and Filip, accused their father of physical violence and threats during their upbringing.
  • Gjert Ingebrigtsen, previously named Norwegian sports coach of the year in 2018, has been coaching another Norwegian runner since his sons broke ties with him.

The father and former coach of Olympic champion runner Jakob Ingebrigtsen has been charged with abusing one of his other children, his lawyer said Monday, escalating an ongoing conflict involving one of Norway’s most prominent sporting families.

Ingebrigtsen won the 1,500-meter race at the Tokyo Olympics and has emerged as one of Europe’s biggest track-and-field stars after being coached since childhood by his father Gjert Ingebrigtsen. But he and two of his brothers — who are also top-level runners — previously accused their father of using “physical violence and threats as part of our upbringing.”

Police launched an investigation into Gjert Ingebrigtsen after that, and on Monday charged him with having physically and mentally abused another of his younger children. Norwegian newspaper VG, citing the indictment, reported that the abuse took place during a four-year period and included threats, coercion and hitting his child with a wet towel on at least one occasion.

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Monday’s charges did not relate to the 23-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen or his older brothers Henrik and Filip, the three prominent runners. Police did not disclose the identity of the child.

Terese Braut Våge, head of police in southeastern Norway, told The Associated Press that cases involving five other alleged victims had been dismissed “on the basis of the evidence” and in one case because of a statute of limitations.

Gjert Ingebrigtsen’s lawyer John Christian Elden said his 58-year-old client “disagrees with the presentation of the events” and “consequently does not admit criminal guilt.”

Gjert Ingebrigtsen was named the Norwegian sports coach of the year in 2018 after Jakob, Henrik and Filip all won medals at major events that year. The family had also been the subject of a TV documentary series, “Team Ingebregtsen,” that was aired by public broadcaster NRK for five season between 2016-21 leading up to the Tokyo Olympics.

But on Oct. 19 last year, the three brothers published an op-ed in Norwegian newspaper VG detailing their father’s behavior and said he “had been very aggressive and controlling” and violent and abusive during their childhoods.

They said “the same aggression and physical punishment struck again” two years ago toward someone else, and that was “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

The three brothers broke ties with their father and Gjert Ingebrigtsen has since started coaching another Norwegian runner, Narve Gilje Nordås. However, Tore Øvrebø, the head of the organization that oversees Olympic sports in Norway, said Ingebrigtsen would not be allowed to be part of the Norwegian staff at the Paris Games this summer. He was also denied an accreditation for the 2023 world championships in Budapest, where Jakob won gold in the 5,000 meters.

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