Warholm breaks world record in Oslo

Karsten Warholm

Photo: Fredrik Hagen/NTB
Karsten Warholm competed in the 400m hurdles to set a new world record.


Norwegian Karsten Warholm broke Kevin Young’s 29-year-old world record on the 400m hurdles when racing in front of a home crowd of 5,000 at the Bislett Stadion in Oslo on July 1, clocking in at 46.70. Warholm became the 21st Norwegian to beat an athletics world record.

Speaking at the post-event press conference, Warholm highlighted the fact that the rivalries are a big part of what motivates him and because others were running quick times, he had to step up as well.  Four days before the event in Oslo, Warholm’s No. 1 rival, Rai Benjamin, was close to beating Young’s world record when he competed in the 2021 United States Olympic trials. His time, 46:83, was four seconds better than Warholm’s then personal record, and the crowd in Oslo was excited to see if Warholm would be able to answer Benjamin.

The event at Bislett stadium welcomed the biggest gathering of people in Norway since the start of the pandemic. Most of the spectators were there to see Warholm’s world record attempt. Warholm lined up in his lucky lane 7 and blasted out of the starting blocks. He closed the gap with France’s Ludvy Vaillant in lane 8 by the first hurdle and was well ahead of the rest of the field heading into the final bend. Brazil’s Alison dos Santos in lane 6 was the only runner who was somewhat able to follow the Norwegian’s pace. Warholm cleared the rest of the hurdles perfectly and crossed the finish line with his arms spread wide to a roar from the audience. The world record was finally broken.

Karsten Warholm speaks to the crowd after winning his race

Photo: Annika Byrde/NTB
Karsten Warholm stands on the podium after the 400m hurdles at the 2021 Bislett Games in Oslo.

“It’s a moment I have been dreaming about for longer than anyone knows. People have been talking about me potentially breaking the record for a long time, and now it’s finally mine,” Warholm said in a televised speech to the audience when the event was over.

A few years ago, the 400m hurdles was an event in crisis. It lacked star power and popularity, and no athlete ever came close to beating the world records. In the last few years however, that has changed. On the men’s side, the rivalry between Warholm, Benjamin, and Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba has created one of the most exciting events in world athletics. The trio have set 11 out of the 15 fastest times ever. On the women’s side, the four fastest times in history have been set in the last three years, including two world records by Americans Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin.

The men’s 400m hurdles final in Tokyo, Tuesday, Aug. 3, will be one of the most exciting events in this year’s Olympic games. 

This article originally appeared in the July 23, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Jo Christian Weldingh

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.