By Philip O'Connor
TOKYO (Reuters) - Norway's middle-distance prodigy Jakob Ingebrigtsen has been keeping things very much in the family as he aims for Olympic gold in Tokyo, training together with his brothers under the watchful eye of his father to get ready for the games.
One of seven siblings, the 20-year-old is peaking at just the right time as the track and field programme in Tokyo gets underway but it is the 1500 metres he will focus on in Japan, training together with older brothers Henrik and Filip.
"It's really important for us to be three guys and also having our father, as a team pushing each other and doing the same things," Jakob told reporters.
"It's obviously really important for all of us to be able to do this together, and push each other towards similar goals."
Henrik, 30, managed a fifth place at the 2012 Games in London but both he and Filip, 28, have struggled with injuries and will not compete in Tokyo, with Jakob left to look after the family's fortunes.
"It's a bit unfortunate this year but it's the same as always, we go around the world together and go on training camps and everything," he explained.
The younger Ingebrigtsen said that a good run of results in recent years, including a blistering victory in the 5000 metres at the Diamond League event in Florence in June, has gained the attention of the rest of the field.
"I wouldn't say they fear me, but I feel like they respect me. For them, maybe that's not a good thing," he said.
"As we saw in Doha, I was kind of surprised that for example in the 5000 metres final the Ethiopians went out really hard, and I believe that was because me and my brother and some other Europeans were in the field," Ingebrigtsen said.
"I believe they feared us going into the last bit of the race, so they had to keep a steady high pace from the gun."
Despite his relative youth, Ingebrigtsen said he has the experience necessary to put on a show in Tokyo.
"Winning races and being able to race fast against good runners always builds confidence, and of course you can get more experience so that's never a bad thing," he said.
"But at the same time I feel like I have been racing at a really high level for many years already."
The men's 1500 heats get underway on Tuesday, with the final set to take place on Saturday Aug. 7.
(Reporting by Philip O'Connor; Editing by Stephen Coates)