Karsten Warholm was crowned men’s European Athlete of the Year at the Golden Tracks award ceremony in Tallinn, Estonia last Saturday (26) but the Norwegian was just as eager to look ahead to the upcoming season as he was to reflect on his unbeaten 2019 campaign.
“It’s a huge year ahead,” said Warholm award the award ceremony. “Everybody knows it’s the Olympics and the European Championships next year and those will be my main targets.”
Warholm will be aiming to complete the set of major titles in the 400m hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics and if he does so, he will have achieved the Grand Slam of major titles only four years after dedicating himself to the event.
The 2016 season was Warholm’s first full season in the 400m hurdles and got to grips with the event quickly, breaking the 49 second-barrier for the first time at the European Championships in Amsterdam with a national record of 48.84 in the semifinal before finishing sixth in the final. Still only 20, Warholm improved to 48.49 in the heats of the Rio Olympics before missing out on the final by only two places.
Since then, Warholm has won two world titles, a European title and is second only to Kevin Young on the world all-time list with 46.92. The Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships also features in Warholm’s plans for the upcoming season and he hasn’t ruled out contesting both the 400m flat and 400m hurdles at those championships.
“The problem is that it is very difficult to find circumstances where you can test your absolute top level in the 400m outdoors, but I am very eager to try and I think there are very high chances of it happening after Tokyo,” said Warholm.
Warholm kick-started his campaign by equalling the long-standing European indoor 400m record of 45.05 at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships and while the summer season promises to be another busy one for Warholm, he is planning to compete sparingly during the indoor season.
Warholm has pencilled in some domestic races in his diary including the Karsten Warholm International which takes place in his hometown of Ulsteinvik on the day of his 24th birthday on 28 February.
Like Warholm, Germany’s Niklas Kaul was crowned men’s Rising Star at the Golden Tracks award ceremony and the world decathlon champion is also eyeing the two major outdoor championships in 2020.
“It’s a big year ahead with the Olympics and European Championships after this. There is a bit more pressure on me for next year but we have to train this winter and stay injury-free and we will see what next year brings for us,” said Kaul, who finished fourth in the decathlon at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin.
Women’s European Athlete of the Year Mariya Lasitskene is planning another full indoor season as a prelude to the outdoor campaign. Her first competitions of the season will be in Cottbus on 29 January followed by Karlsruhe on 31 January en route to the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Nanjing, China from 13-15 March.
Women’s Rising Star Yaroslava Mahuchikh from Ukraine’s is also planning to compete in the upcoming indoor season. Her first competition is provisionally the Minsk Christmas Starts on 19-20 December.