Karsten Warholm leads the pack

Up-and-coming Norwegian runner crushes competition in two Diamond League races

Photo: Bjørn S. Delebekk, VG
Karsten Warholm after competing in the 2016 Olympic Games. He was eliminated before the finals but was pleased just to have made it that far so early in his career.

Jo Christian Weldingh
Oslo, Norway

After winning the 400-meter hurdles race and setting the Norwegian record with a time of 48.25 in the Diamond League event in Oslo on June 14, runner Karsten Warholm went out publicly and said that it would be very difficult to duplicate the feat in Stockholm four days later. But for the second time in a row, he crushed his competitors in a Diamond League event and now leads the cup overall.

In the June 18 race in Stockholm, the 21-year-old got a great start from his position in lane seven, took the lead as the runners started on the last hundred meters, and crushed the competitors, clocking in at 48.82, a bit slower than his time in Oslo. Estonian Rasmus Mägi came in second, while Yasmini Copello from Turkey placed third.

“He outperformed everyone here today, with a great time, and now a runner from Norway leads the Diamond League. That hasn’t happened in a while,” a Norwegian commentator stated.

Warholm himself was satisfied. “It was a very good race. I felt tired after Oslo, but apparently so did everyone else,” he told the press before trying to lower the media’s expectations to his performance in the upcoming World Championship. “I think we need to calm down. There’s a big difference between a Diamond League event and the World Championship, and I’ll do my best to stay humble. The World Championship will be difficult.”

After his amazing season start with strong national records on both the 400-meter hurdles and the regular 400 meters, several former athletes have stated that Warholm might be able to compete with the very best in the World Championship. Both Olympic Champion Vebjørn Rodal and European Champion Steinar Hoen have proclaimed that Warholm is a medal contender.

Warholm was not a big name in Norwegian sports before this season, but he feels comfortable with his new level of fame. “It feels really good to get this kind of recognition. Of course, the media is my livelihood in a way, and I guess I’m also theirs. So far I have been left in peace to train and prepare for races, and as long as that continues, I’m content. It might be an advantage that I’m this young, as I’m not really in a position to disappoint anyone yet. The media probably feels like they need to build me up a bit first,” he said with a smile.

On June 24, Warholm took another victory when he took first place in the 400-meter hurdles at the European Team Championships, clocking in his second-best time of 48.46. His competition didn’t stand a chance, and Turkey’s Copello came in second at 49.17, over a half second behind the Norwegian.

Warholm emphasizes the importance of staying grounded, however. “I see myself as a fairly anonymous and regular guy, and I think it’s important to remember that I’m in the start of my career and have a long way to go.”

Anonymous is the last word anyone would use to describe Warholm as he was preparing to start his race in Stockholm though. He was waving his hands and jumping around, trying, and succeeding, to get the crowd going, clearly enjoying the spotlight.

Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, but is currently living in Oslo. He has a BA in Archaeology from The University of Oslo and a BA in Business Administration from BI Norwegian Business School.

This article originally appeared in the July 14, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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