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There are discussions that can only take place between a father and son.
My son, who lives in Cape Town, is a running fanatic and the past two weeks we have been in constant contact aboutthe Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“I enjoy the swimming and rowing and all the other stuff,” he told me.
“But in the end, you have to concede that there are really only five events – the men’s 800m, 1 500m, 5 000m, 10 000m and marathon. The rest are sideshows.”
We have agreed on our favourites: Botswana’s Nijel Amos in the 800, the Ugandan superstars Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo in the 10 000 and our own Elroy Gelant and Stephen Mokoka in the marathon.
We discussed Cheptegei’s apparent lack of form in the 5 000 and his chances of taking the 5 000m/10 000m double like Mo Farah did nine years ago.
We spoke about Timothy Cheruiyot’s disastrous Kenyan trials and his excellent comeback races in Monaco and Oslo. We have had long debate about Eliud Kipchoge’s chances against the Ethiopians and Ugandans.
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But every time the discussion returns to one man: the 20-year-old Norwegian Jakob Ingebrigtsen, one of the sport’s most precocious talents in recent memory.
We have voiced our concerns about his decision to compete in both the 1 500m and the 5 000m, his recent illness, his great run in Florence…
“I think this is his chance to overpower Cheruiyot in the 1 500,” Rikus told me. “If the 5 000 heats and final don’t take too much out of him.”
He told me he believes Jakob is a serious contender for a gold medal in the 5 000. And he told me he worries that Ingebrigtsen will risk everything for gold and go down in flames like Steve Prefontaine did in ’72 in Munich.
“My friends are weird,” he said. “None of them discuss athletics with me in depth. I won’t be surprised if some of them don’t even run!”
Next week, I’ll be watching a lot of athletics. And I will have constant, deeply technical dialogues with my son on the fine art of competitive running.
Medals are wonderful, but to me, the memories I am about to make with my son are worth more than gold. Any father and son who share such a strong bond are winners.