Berliner Tageblatt - Ingebrigtsen relishes Eugene duel with Kerr

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Ingebrigtsen relishes Eugene duel with Kerr
Ingebrigtsen relishes Eugene duel with Kerr / Photo: © AFP/File

Ingebrigtsen relishes Eugene duel with Kerr

Olympic 1500m champion Jakob Ingebrigtsen's mouthwatering mid-season mile duel with world champion Josh Kerr at the Eugene Diamond League meeting is the kind of marquee matchup athletics needs, Ingebrigtsen said Friday.

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"It's very important," Norway's Ingebrigtsen said as he and Kerr fielded questions together at a pre-meet press conference in Eugene.

"Obviously we all feed off the engagement and the enthusiasm ... if we're only saving that for one race or two races of the season, I think the whole point vanishes a little bit."

Britain's Kerr stunned Ingebrigtsen to take the world title in Budapest last year -- after compatriot Jake Wightman had done the same at the 2022 worlds.

Ingebrigtsen and Kerr traded barbs in the wake of that upset and Kerr was upfront about the fact that he has no special interest making their first meeting since an opportunity to smooth things over.

"I'm here trying to be the best in the world," Kerr said. "I showed I could do that last year and I want to continue that pursuit.

"If that annoys people or ruffles up competitors I am sure it will, because the whole world is trying to do what I am doing.

"So yeah, I don't really care how this race affects anyone else," Kerr added.

"It's going to affect my season and my career and that's the selfish way that I look at my racing because it's an individual sport."

Ingebrigtsen will be launching his 2024 season after skipping indoor and cross-country competition because of an Achilles tendon injury that upset his training schedule.

He won't be easing in, with Saturday's Bowerman Mile also featuring Wightman as well as Commonwealth champion Olli Hoare and American Yared Nuguse.

That's OK with Ingebrigtsen, who thinks the sport's best should meet often.

"I think we should expect this field or something similar every race," said the Norwegian, who is also a two-time world champion at 5,000m and a four-time European champion. "I don't think we should put this race on a pedestal."

M.Ouellet--BTB