Norway’s track stars get up to speed

Warholm sets European record, Iuel qualifies for World Championships at Bislett Games

Karsten Warholm - Bislett Games

Photo: VG
Karsten Warholm, shown at Stockholm earlier in the season, set a European record of 47.33 in the 400-meter hurdles in front of the home crowd at the Bislett Games in Oslo, June 13.

Jo Christian Weldingh

Karsten Warholm, 23, easily won the 400-meter hurdles race in the 2019 Bislett Games, June 13, running the distance in 47:33—four hundredths of a second faster than the old European record from 1995, and almost two seconds faster than Kyron McMaster, 22, of the British Virgin Islands in second place. It was also a Norwegian record.

Wonderkid Jacob Ingebrigtsen, 18, was expected to become the first Norwegian to run a mile faster than 3:50, but failed after he, according to his coach and father Gjert Ingebrigtsen, “Wasted his energy on nonsense.” He finished sixth in 3:53.04.

Amalie Iuel, 400-meter hurdler, came in fifth in the women’s final in 55.80.

Bislett Games - Amalie Iuel

Photo: Jørgen Bråstad / VG
Amalie Iuel finished fifth in the 400-meter hurdles at the Bislett Games in Oslo, June 13. In the second meet of the season, June 2, she bested her 400-meter hurdles Norwegian record by .11 and qualified for the World Championships in Doha, Qatar.

The Bislett Games is an annual track and field meet at Bislett Stadium in Oslo. Previously one of the IAAF Golden League events, it is now part of the IAAF Diamond League. The event has been held every year since 1966. Outside of the World Championship, European Championships, and the Olympics, it’s the highlight of every Norwegian track-and-field-athlete’s season.

Bislett, in the heart of Oslo, was sold out for the first time in years. This was most likely because of Warholm and Ingebrigtsen’s great performances earlier in the season. Ingebrigtsen might have underperformed a little bit, but Warholm’s race was the highlight of the event for the Norwegian spectators.

Abderrahaman Samba, 23, of Qatar, who has beaten Warholm on several occasions in the last year, didn’t run in Oslo because of a hip injury. When asked about Samba in his post-race interview, it was obvious that Warholm sees him as his main competitor in this fall’s World Championship in Doha, Qatar.

“I’m closer to him now than I have been in a while, but Samba will be great,” said Warholm. “When he’s back from his injury he’s going to be ready and fit for a fight. But right now, I want to focus on the fact that I broke the European record.”

The World Championship in Doha is less than 100 days away and 13 Norwegians are already qualified for the championship. Iuel, 25, qualified in the second meet of the season, breaking her own Norwegian record by .11, clocking 55.15, better than the WC qualifying time.

Team Norway will probably set a record for participants when the championship starts Sept. 27, as strong names like Henrik Ingebrigtsen, Isabelle Pedersen, Sondre Nordstad Moen, and Marcus Thomsen have yet to qualify.

In comparison, 13 Norwegians participated in the 2017 World Championship in London, while nine participated in Beijing in 2015.

When it comes to medals, the Norwegian audience doesn’t have much to look forward to, according to most experts. Most predictions put Norway at two or three medals, Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Warholm being the nation’s biggest medal favorites. The International Association of Athletics Federations writes on its website, “One of the greatest showdowns in the World Championship’s history will be between Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba, USA’s Rai Benjamin, and Warholm in the 400-meter hurdles final September 30.” So, the experts seem to agree that Warholm will stand on the podium.   

Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has bachelor’s degrees in archaeology from the University of Oslo and business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.

This article originally appeared in the July 12, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.

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The Norwegian American

The Norwegian American is North America's oldest and only Norwegian newspaper, published since May 17, 1889.