Team Norway optimistic about athletics
The Norwegian squad hopes to take home three medals in track and field events
Jo Christian Weldingh
The International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) World Athletics Championships Doha, Qatar, will be held from Sept. 27 to Oct. 6, and rarely have the ambitions been higher for a Norwegian athletics squad. Norway will be sending at least 16 athletes to the championship, the highest number since the championship in Athens in 1997. An additional four might still be able to qualify.
“It’s a very strong squad. We haven’t had a team this strong since 1997,” Erlend Slokvik, director of the Norwegian Athletics Federation, said to Dagbladet. “11 Norwegian records have been broken so far this season. That has never happened before. Many athletes have performed remarkably well.”
Norway has traditionally been best at the throwing events, like the javelin, where both Andreas Thorkildsen and Trine Hattestad have won several Olympic gold medals. In the last few years, Norwegian athletes have made unexpected strides in the track events. Heading into this championship, the Norwegian runners have leapt into the foreground to become the nation’s greatest hopes.
Just in the last two and a half months, six Norwegian records have been broken by six athletes in six events. This is unique in a Norwegian context, especially when most of the athletes are young and therefore expected to improve in the coming years.
Still, Norway is a small nation in the world of athletics and the national federation has a spoken goal of three medals in total, which is realistic, especially when you think about the fact that Norway’s total tally of World Championship medals adds up to 15. Here’s a look at the top hopefuls:
Karsten Warholm (400m hurdles) is Norway’s best hope for a gold medal. He has won every single race this season, but his two biggest competitors, Rai Benjamin of the United States and Abderrahman Samba of the host country, have been absent for most of the season. In Zürich, when facing Benjamin for the first time this season, Warholm set a new European record and ran the second fastest time ever with 46:92. Benjamin clocked 46.98. It was the third time this season Warholm set the European record. Samba’s career best is 46.98. All three have a chance to win the gold, which makes the 400m hurdles one of the most anticipated events of the championship.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen (1500m, 5000m) is ranked the second best 1,500m runner in the world and has broken his personal record in both 1,500m and 5,000m this season. This season, the 18-year-old wunderkind has been on the Golden League podium three times in 1,500m and once in 5,000m. Last year, he won the gold medal in both distances in the European championship.
Filip Ingebrigtsen (1500m, 5000m), like his brother Jacob, has broken personal records in both 1,500m and 5,000m. The middle brother, 26, has made several top performances this season, for example his third place in Paris. He might win a medal, but both Filip and Jakob will face tough competition from the African nations.
Henrik Ingebrigtsen (5000m), the oldest of the Ingebrigtsen brothers, 28, has not qualified in the 1,500m, but has a spoken goal of a place in the final on the 5,000m. He has been plagued with injuries in the last few seasons, but he broke his personal 5,000m-record in July and has said that his injuries are healed.
Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal (3000m hurdles, 5000m), has been struggling with injuries, but her form is said to be on the rise. Her season best in the 3,000m hurdles is about seven seconds slower than her personal best from 2017, but she broke her personal record in the 5,000m in June. The competition in Doha might be too great this year.
Amalie Iuel (400m hurdles) is ranked No. 15 in the world, so a place in the final might be too much of a challenge. However, the 25-year-old has had a good season, breaking the Norwegian record when she ran 55.15 in Poland in June.
Sondre Nordstad Moen (10,000m), has never been better and broke the 30-year-old Norwegian record earlier this season, but will probably not be able to compete with the top runners in this year’s field.
Jo Christian Weldingh grew up in Lillehammer, Norway, and lives in Oslo. He has a bachelor’s degree in archaeology from the University of Oslo and a bachelor’s degree in business administration from BI Norwegian Business School.
This article originally appeared in the September 20, 2019, issue of The Norwegian American.