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Norwegian police charge Olympic champion's father for domestic violence

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The Local/AFP - [email protected]
Norwegian police charge Olympic champion's father for domestic violence
The Norwegian athlete Jakob Ingebrigtsen (right) competes in the Men's 3000m during the 2023 Prefontaine Classic and Wanda Diamond League in Oregon in September 2023.. Photo: Ali Gradischer/Getty Images/AFP

Norwegian police said Monday that Gjert Ingebrigtsen, father and former coach of 1,500m Olympic champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen, had been charged with domestic violence against a family member.

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Jakob Ingebrigtsen and two of his brothers, Henrik and Filip, who are also athletes, shocked Norway last October when they accused their father of being violent.

"We grew up with a very aggressive and authoritarian father, who used physical violence and threats as part of his upbringing," the brothers wrote in an op-ed for newspaper VG. "We still feel a sense of discomfort and fear that we have felt since childhood," they added.

Police opened a probe into the abuse claims and on Monday said prosecutors had decided to charge Gjert Ingebrigtsen, 58, with domestic violence against one of his children.

According to a source close to the case, the acts in question do not concern the trio of known athletes but another, younger child.

Over a period of four years, from 2018 to 2022, Gjert Ingebrigtsen allegedly manhandled, insulted, threatened and hit the child in the face with his hand or with a towel.

Responding to questions from AFP, Therese Braut Vage, who led the investigation, would not confirm this account.

Police said they had closed investigations into other events concerning the six other children in the home either due to a lack of evidence or, in one case, because the statute of limitations having expired.

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Gjert, who coached Jakob until after the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo -- where Jakob won the gold -- has always denied the accusations against him.

"As far as the dismissed cases, we agree that there is no evidence to prove that Ingebrigtsen committed any wrongdoing," his lawyer John Christian Elden told AFP on Monday.

"For the rest, Ingebrigtsen disputes the description of the facts on which the indictment is based -- and he therefore does not admit his guilt," he continued in an email.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen is the most successful of the three brothers, twice winning gold in the world championships 5000m in 2022 and 2023, as well as the Olympic 1500m gold.

The 23-year-old is also preparing for the Olympic Games in Paris this summer.

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Henrik, 33, and Filip, 31, were European champions in the 1500m in 2012 and 2016 respectively.

After breaking with his sons, Gjert Ingebrigtsen shocked Norwegian athletics by becoming the trainer of another runner, Narve Gilje Nordas.

The Norwegian Olympic Committee has said that Gjert will not be granted accreditation for the Olympic Games in Paris this summer, as was the case at last year's World Athletics Championships.

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