European Athlete of the Year Karsten Warholm was giving some contemplation to contesting both the 400m and 400m hurdles at the Paris 2020 European Athletics Championships but the Norwegian has set himself new targets with the Olympic Games postponed and the European Championships cancelled.
The two-time world champion was in electrifying form at the Impossible Games in Oslo last month, blasting to a world best of 33.78 in the 300m hurdles in a virtually deserted Bislett Stadium on his outdoor season’s debut.
Warholm pondered whether that would be his only competitive outing of the year but the Norwegian has at least two international races in his diary before the end of the season when his focus will shift further to completing the major set of 400m hurdles titles at the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Warholm will contest his first 400m hurdles of the season in the Monaco Diamond League on 14 August. A re-run of the 2018 European Championships final could be in store with Warholm due to face Turkey’s Yasmani Copello and Ireland’s Thomas Barr, the silver and bronze medallists behind Warholm in Berlin.
Nine days later, Warholm is scheduled to make his Diamond League debut in the 400m in the Stockholm Diamond League on 23 August. Warholm has seldom contested the 400m since setting his lifetime best and Norwegian record of 44.87 in 2017 but the 24-year-old is not only looking to break his national record but also the long-standing European record of 44.33 if the conditions allow.
“At that distance, my potential is obviously better than my personal best. If I am in normal shape, I will be disappointed if I do not break the Norwegian record,” Warholm cautiously told NRK.
On the European record, Warholm said: “With good conditions I will try [to break the European record]. All records are tempting, including that one.”
The European record has stood to East Germany’s Thomas Schonlebe since the 1987 World Championships in Rome, making it one of the longest standing records in the books. Warholm did however match Schonlebe’s European indoor record of 45.05 at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships.
According to the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, Sweden is still counted as a "red zone" in the context of the coronavirus pandemic. The Stockholm Diamond League is therefore taking place behind closed doors next month and Warholm is also looking to take proactive measures to safeguard his health.
“One of the possibilities we talked about is to rent a motorhome and live completely in our own bubble. We'll see. But in any case I have a very great desire to compete because I trained very well,” he said.
Sports today: Karsten Warholm runs the fastest 300m hurdles in history (33.78 seconds) in a solo race in a largely empty stadium in Oslo with cutouts for spectators. pic.twitter.com/Vn7smEHehP
— Nick Zaccardi (@nzaccardi) June 11, 2020