Karsten Warholm only made the switch to the 400m hurdles in 2016 but the Norwegian now has the European record to his credit as well as titles from the IAAF World Championships and the European Championships after a barnstorming run at the Oslo Diamond League on Thursday (13) evening.
It was at the Bislett Stadium two years ago when Warholm made his breakthrough into the international ranks with a fearless victory on his season’s debut from lane seven in 48.25 - a run which left him slumped on the track in sheer exhaustion.
Two years later and his distinctive pre-race routine remains the same - as does his approach to the event. He was given his favoured lane seven again and the 23-year-old bolted out of the blocks, making up the stagger on the athlete drawn on his outside by the first flight of barriers.
World leader Abderrahman Samba from Qatar was a late scratch due to injury but this race was still by no means a procession and Kyron McMaster - who defeated Warholm at the last two Diamond League finals - didn’t cede any ground on the fast-starting Norwegian as the pair reached the top bend in close contention.
But the former decathlete made his strength show in the home straight and a two stride lead over the eighth barrier ballooned into a near two second win at the finish. Warholm, who set his previous lifetime best of 47.64 at the European Championships, revised that mark to 47.33 to eclipse Frenchman Stephane Diagana’s European record by four-hundredths.
— IAAF Diamond League (@Diamond_League) June 13, 2019
Warholm’s exploits in front of a sell-out crowd at the Bislett Games including European Athletics President Svein Arne Hansen - who was attending his 55th Bislett Games - didn’t come as a surprise to his popular coach Leif Olav Alnes.
“My coach thought I would run 47.30 so he was nearly right. I've worked so hard during the winter with the pressure coming at me, so this is a very special feeling, it's the best in the world,” said Warholm.
“I've had a very bad cramp in my calf since the race but I've had it a couple of times before - right now, I want to cry like a little girl! It's worth the cramp, though - it's worth anything - this is one of the best days of my life. A European record feels so good, it's so unbelievable - it shows my training works. I didn't believe it when I saw the time, I live for this and I really love track and field on days like this."
After winning by 1.4 seconds in the Stockholm Diamond League on 30 May when he opened his season with a 47.80 clocking, Warholm’s margin of ascendency in Oslo was even greater. European bronze medallist Thomas Barr from Ireland came through for second in 49.11 with McMaster fading to third in 49.12.
Warholm’s next race will be without barriers when he contests the 400m at the Ostrava Golden Spike on 20 June. Warholm already has one major title to his credit this year when he won the European indoor 400m title in Glasgow in 45.05 to equal the European record.