Warholm wins only Norwegian medal

IAAF World Athletics Championships

Jo Christian Weldingh

Photo: Bjørn S Delebekk/VG
Karsten Warholm, 23, was Norway’s bright spo tat the Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, capping an outstanding season with a gold medal in the 400-meter hurdles on Sept. 30. He is the first Norwegian to defend World Cup gold.

The expectations for the Norwegian athletes were sky high heading into the International Association of Athletics Federations World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar, and experts predicted the best championship in Norway’s history. But when the last day of the championship came to an end on Oct. 7, Norway had won only one single medal.

Karsten Warholm, 23, won the gold medal in the men’s 400-meter hurdles, as expected, and took home his second consecutive World Championship. Rai Benjamin from the United States won the silver, while Abderrahman Samba from host nation Qatar won the bronze.

The 400 hurdles has quickly become one of the more popular events in athletics. Of the four men in history who have broken 47 seconds, three of them lined up in the final: Warholm (46.92 seconds), Benjamin (46.98 seconds) and Samba (46.98 seconds). Experts predicted a time close to the 27-year-old world record set by American Kevin Young in 1992 (46.78 seconds). To everyone’s surprise, Warholm clocked in at a surprisingly weak 47.42 seconds.

Jakob Ingebrigtsen missed the podium on both the 5,000-meter and the 1,500-meter, ending up in fifth and fourth place, respectively. Sensational for a Norwegian 19-year-old, to be fair, but still a little bit of a disappointment when he was expected to win at least one medal. In the 1,500, Jakob clocked 3 minutes, 31.70 seconds, just 0.32 seconds behind second place and 0.24 seconds from third.

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, 19, during the 1,500-meter final at the Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar on Oct. 6. Ingebrigtsen finished in a disappointing fourth place in 3:31.70. Timothy Cheruiyot of Kenya (front) never lost his lead and won gold in 3:29.26, but 0.32 seconds separated Ingebrigtsen from second place, and 0.24 seconds from third. Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria (right in green shirt) finished second (3:31.38), Marcin Lewandowski of Poland (3:31.46) finished third.

“I wouldn’t have bothered coming if I knew beforehand that I would end up with a fourth and a fifth place,” Jakob Ingebrigtsen told the press after his last race. Probably a reflection of his immediate disappointment in not having won a medal, but it also says a lot about what both he and the Norwegian fans were expecting.

Jakob’s older brother, Filip Ingebrigtsen, who was just as big a favorite as Jakob, had to stop midway through the 5,000 final because of stomach cramps, and he didn’t even reach the final in the 1,500.

Some say that the decision to run the 5,000 in addition to their strongest distance, the 1,500, in the same championship might be the reason for the two youngest Ingebrigtsen brothers’ sub-par results in Doha.

When asked about this by magasinetfriidrett.no, Erlend Slokvik, president of the Norwegian Athletics Federation answered, “Most definitely. In hindsight, it would have been a lot easier to win a medal in the 1,500 if they hadn’t run the 5,000 earlier in the championship.”

The oldest brother in the Ingebrigtsen family, Henrik, who has been plagued by injuries over the last few years, made it to the final in the 5,000 against all odds. He came in last in the final field, but his participation alongside his two younger brothers was a special moment for international athletics. Never before have three brothers reached the same final in an athletics championship.

Photo: Bjørn S Delebekk/VG
Amalie Iuel, 25, set a Norwegian record in her qualifying heat of the 400-meter hurdles of 54.72 seconds, then finished 10th in the semifinal (above) in 55.03, her second best time ever, but failed to qualify for the final at the Athletics World Championships in Doha, Qatar, Oct. 3.

Amalie Iuel was knocked out in the women’s semifinal in the 400 hurdles competition, but she had a promising championship, improving her own Norwegian record by 0.43 seconds with a time of 54.72 seconds in her qualifying heat. If she continues her progress toward next year’s Tokyo Olympics, she might, with a bit of luck, be a medal contender.

The championship might have been a bit of a disappointment, but most of the current athletes have yet to reach their peak, so the future of Norwegian athletics is still brighter than it has been in a long time. With less than a year left before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, Norwegian audiences have a lot to look forward to.

This article originally appeared in the November 1, 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.