Karsten Warholm wants to win athletics’ ‘moon race’

The 24-year-old dragged his trailing leg on the ultimate hurdle in Stockholm in August to end in a world-leading 46.87 seconds — 0.09 seconds shy of Kevin Young’s world report, a mark he has inched ever nearer to all through his profession.

“I was really, really happy of course with the race in itself. But stumbling into the last hurdle and just looking at the time, knowing that most likely I spoiled my chances of a world record right there … I think I’ve never felt that way before.”

Young’s world report, set on the Barcelona Olympics, has stood for 28 years, the longest-standing report in males’s monitor working.

The American recently said he feels it is “about time” his report is damaged, and a look on the all-time record suggests he may not have to wait for much longer.

Warholm has run 4 of the 10 quickest instances within the occasion’s historical past, whereas his two closest rivals, Rai Benjamin and Abderrahmane Samba, make up the one different athletes to ever run beneath 47 seconds.

Between these three, the race for the world report could be very a lot on.

“This is going to be really, really tough competition-wise,” says Warholm, who took the world title forward of Benjamin and Samba final yr.

“I think in 400m hurdles we are in for a real treat because everybody wants this right now. I think it’s going to be like the moon race between the United States and Russia — it’s going to be crazy.”

It will take extra big leaps than small steps to triumph in hurdles’ model of the Space Race, however as with every contest — athletic or cosmic — it’s rivalry that helps gas progress.
Warholm wins gold in last year's World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, ahead of Benjamin and Samba.

“It’s really important to have competition, somebody pushing you and somebody keeping you on your toes, I really like that,” Warholm provides.

“I’m thankful for my competitors — even though I want to beat them, of course.”

Quality coaching and being greatest buddies with the coach

Warholm, who initially competed in decathlon, achieved a serious breakthrough when he received gold on the 2017 World Championships in simply his second full season as a 400m hurdler.

The then-21-year-old’s response to that victory was iconic, clawing his fingers down the facet of his face along with his mouth agape in disbelief. He had run arduous and quick straight from the gun, a trademark of his performances over time.

Warholm reacts in disbelief after winning world championship gold in London, UK, in 2017.

An expressive persona has turn out to be a standard function of Warholm’s races, too. The Norwegian will thump his chest and roar phrases of self-encouragement as he is launched to the gang on the beginning line — psychological preparation for what lies forward.

“When I look at my races, I get sort of embarrassed because it looks silly, but at the same time it works for me and it’s a part of my routine,” says Warholm.

“When I’m in training I only race against myself and the clock. I’m just trying to get that adrenaline and trying to get the high quality. I started it in training, getting psyched up by hitting myself and everything and for me it just works.

“It’s necessary to prepare with actually, actually top quality, and I believe that’s one in all our secrets and techniques — we prepare with nearly the identical high quality that we do in competitions.”

Warholm often speaks about his success in plural, rather than singular, terms, sharing the credit with his coach Leif Olav Alnes. The pair started working together in 2015, after Warholm was told Alnes is “the best coach in Norway and possibly additionally the world.”

Despite Alnes being nearly 40 years Warholm’s senior, the pair have forged a strong friendship away from the track.

“He’s labored with a whole lot of nice athletes in Norway and what I like most about him is his data,” says Warholm.

“He could be very, very properly educated. He’s actually sensible. But on the identical time … he speaks in very comprehensible phrases.

“I really like hanging out with him and sometimes I hang out at his house, just talking. We are like best friends. I really enjoy spending time with my coach, and I feel it’s also a secret behind our results — we really communicate very well.

“I believe individuals underestimate the worth of being on a mission collectively and dealing as a staff, (even) in a person sport that monitor and area is.”

Mastering the man killer

Warholm’s multi-sport background saw him compete in events across the track and field spectrum in his teenage years. He occasionally doubles up in disciplines today, and after running the fastest 400m hurdles time of the year in Stockholm, he returned to the track hours later to win the 400m flat.

“I’m all in for the 400m hurdles,” he says when asked if he’d consider taking on other events in the future.

Warholm clears a hurdle while competing in Berlin earlier this year.

“But, on the identical time, I’ve all the time thought that I would like to strive different occasions down the street, even when that is 400m flat or 800m.

“Right now, it’s all about the 400m hurdles because I feel like we’re on a mission there and there are things I want to achieve when it comes to that event.”

There are few disciplines in athletics extra demanding than the 400m hurdles, an occasion that requires a singular mix of pace, energy, endurance, flexibility and approach, plus the willpower to push by means of the ache of the ultimate 100m.

“When you get nervous before the 400m, that is the reason — the last 100m,” says Warholm.

“You know it’s going to be tough but at the same time that is what makes it so tough because everybody else feels the same way. Who can deal with it best and who is most fit for the event?

“That is what we prepare for — the final 100m … whenever you get the lactic acid you lose so many seconds, it burns and it is powerful. But there’s additionally a purpose they name it the man killer.”
Warholm catches his breath after winning gold at the World Athletics Championships in Doha.

On top of managing periods of quarantine and coronavirus testing, Warholm also overcame a stress fracture in his leg at the start of the summer before enjoying the best season of his life.

He now has a chance to gradually build up his training again ahead of a year that includes the rescheduled Olympic Games. But Warholm refuses to put a number on what he wants to achieve in 2021.

“My principal goal has all the time been and hopefully will all the time be to develop myself and turn out to be even higher,” he says.

“There are large probabilities that I’ll be even higher in 2021, however when it comes to championships something can occur. That is what’s fascinating about sport — in the event that they handed out the medals earlier than the race was run it will be boring.”

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