The reigning World 400h Champion, Karsten Warhlom has finally open up why he missed Kelvin Young’s record, just two weeks after his world record near-miss in Stockholm.
“I saw that Kevin Young hit the last hurdle in his world record race so I thought I would try the same,” he said. “But it didn’t work out that well for me.”
Opening with a 47.10 performance in Monaco on 14 August, his first 400m hurdles race in 10 months, he followed up with a stunning 46.87 run in Stockholm nine days later to solidify his No2 position on the all-time list. His famously aggressive style and continually improved fitness is now turning his every appearance into a serious assault on Young’s 46.78 world record set at the 1992 Olympics. In Stockholm, a slight clip of the final barrier could have been the difference.
“So for next time, I’ll try to avoid that.”
Beginning tomorrow night at the World Athletics Continetal Tour Gold meeting in Ostrava on the same track where he suffered his last defeat when finishing third in the Continental Cup. Given the form he’s developed since, that late September competition in 2018 seems almost a lifetime ago.
He’s certainly upbeat about his return.
“I think the track here is really good, and looking at the weather report, it’s going to be good as well,” he said.
“I will give it my all like I always do. But you never have a guarantee for anything. Everybody is talking and thinking about the record. For me, it’s doing what I know I can do. And you never know what can happen. It’s important to always be the best version of myself – when I step onto the track tomorrow it is going to be the same.”
For their part, organisers are trying their best to be accommodating. When it was first announced that Warholm was coming to Ostrava, this event was going to cap the evening – if not as the key highlight, then certainly one of them.
Now, they’ve decided to move his event to an earlier part of the programme to ensure the best possible conditions. It’s still to be confirmed, but it will likely start at about 18:40 local time. Warholm said he’s grateful for the move because he’s also ready.
“I feel good. My body is good. I feel my shape is good and I’m going to go out there and do my thing and hopefully there will be somebody starting the clock and somebody stopping the clock. That’s all I need.”
For a season such as this one, that’s really all an athlete can ask for. But Warholm added that if forced to look, one can find some positive sides, competitively speaking, to the situation caused by the pandemic.
“I think actually a season like this gives people a chance to perform better,” he said. “We didn’t have to start the season in May or June. We didn’t have the Olympics to prepare for. We didn’t have the European Championships to prepare for anymore so you can choose meets as you want. And you can train longer and train more and train how you want to. So for those that can train and are motivated, this year can actually be a gift.”
“If you want to find a brighter perspective,” he continued, “this is a good thing. But I would of course like to have Olympics and European Championships. But when the situation isn’t that anymore it’s important to find a better way of looking at and that’s what we’ve been trying to do this year.”
Of course, he misses his key competitors, most of whom have apparently chosen to take most of this year off.
“I just have to keep on doing what I’m doing, I have to keep on running. I’m prepared whenever they’re prepared to step on the track again. You want to race the best guys – that’s best for the people watching and it’s best for the athletes pushing their limits. For now, I’m running because it’s what I like to do.”
And tomorrow, he’ll do so running in lane 8, just as he did in Stockholm.
“It’s just running and not caring about anyone else,” he said. “I actually like that way of running so I don’t know if it’s my new favourite lane, but right now it works very well.”