Photo of Karsten Warholm, NOR; Photo: Deca Text&Bild
Jonas Hedman is writing a nearly daily column on Rio 2016 with a peculiar view from Scandanavia. Jonas provides us with more knowledge on how athletics is viewed in Scandanavia.
Karsten Warholm – One of the Greatest Norwegian Talents of all timeâ€¨â€¨
The fourth day in Rio included the heats at 400m hurdles for both men and women and ended with two national records for the Scandinavian countries. The biggest surprise was Norwegian multi talent Karsten Warholm, 20, who won his heat in a new national record of 48.49.
Sweden is the number one country in Scandinavia historically when it comes to 400m hurdles for men, but the event has declined in recent years and no Swede were close to qualify for Rio. Instead there are some talented guys from the other Scandinavian countries and two of them successfully reached the semifinal in Rio on Monday. In the third heat of six Norwegian Karsten Warholm ran the race of his life and came out on the homestraight in the lead. Somehow he managed to stay there despite hard competition from four other guys and won in 48.49.
The winning margin was just 0.01 with fourth guy 0.07 behind! Warholm lowered his own Norwegian record by 0.35 and moved to fifth place on the season list.
“I was really nervous before the race but thought I just have to give it my all. At lane two I had a good view of the field and I am really happy with the outcome! After the Euro championships a month ago when I was sixth, I knew I had a chance to advance”, says Warholm to the Norwegian Federation’s website after running with 13 strides between the hurdles the whole race.
Everyone cheered in Ulsteinvik
Karsten Warholm was born in Ulsteinvik, a village with a population of only 6000 people in the west archipelago of Norway. The club he represents, Dimna IL, put up a big screen in the sport arena where more than hundred people showed up to see their star running in the Olympics. Warholm’s parents, grand parents and girlfriend was there and they were all cheering a lot after the national record.
“I am really proud of him! I wish I was in Rio but it was great to watch the race here too, together with our club mates! says Warholm’s girlfriend Oda Djupvik.
Competing in the “wrong” event
400m hurdles is a quit new event for Warholm since he’s usually focusing on the multi events. In 2013 he won the World Youth octathlon title and last year at the European junior championships he took two silvers – the decathlon and 400m. It was quit a performance since he ran the individual 400m final between the high jump and the 400m in the decathlon and was jus 0.02 from gold!
48.49 was Warholm’s fourth national record in just over two months. Will it be a fifth in the semifinal?
Oskari MÃ¶rÃ¶ close to 49 seconds
In the fifth heat in Rio Finland’s Oskari MÃ¶rÃ¶, 23, had a great finish and was on third place ten meters from the goal. But he was passed just before the finish line by american Byron Robinson. The time 49.04, however, was good enough to advance on placing and it was also a national record by 0.08. The old mark was from 2014 and belonged to himself.
“I am not satisfied with the race technically, there are some improvements and I just don’t want to get lane one or two in the semifinal”, he said. Unfortunately that’s what happened and he will be running on number two.
Slott Petersen is a medal contender
The progression of Scandinavian 400m hurdles is even better for women with Denmarks Sara Slott Petersen as the best. Last year she broke the 29-year-old Nordic record by 0.16 when she clocked 53.99 in Paris Diamond League. In the World championship she finished fourth and she’s a medal contender in the Olympics too.
In Rio she won her heat easy in 55.20 which was the third fastest overall.
“The time isn’t important in the rounds, you just want to get to the semifinal spending as little energy as possible. It felt fine and I think 53.5 will be enough for a medal. But first it’s the semifinals”, says Slott Petersen who reached the semifinal in London 2012.
Scandinavia was also represented with Slott Petersens countrywoman Stina Troest who finished fourth in her heat at 56.06 and advanced as one of the last. Norways Amalie Iuel had 56.75 and did not have the same luck since she was 0.39 from advancemant.
MÃ¤kelÃ¤ twelfth in the triple jump
On Sunday Finland’s Kristiina MÃ¤kelÃ¤ finished twelfth in the triple jump final with 13.95 efter setting a personal best with 14.24 in the qualification. She was very happy for the advancemant but was unable to reload for the final.
In the women’s 1500m semifinal Sweden’s Meraf Batha advanced to the final after a good kick at the end finishing fifth in her heat in 4:06.41. In the men’s 800m semifinal on Saturday Denmark’s Andreas Bube set a season best of 1:45.87. It was a second from his four year old personal best but he would have needed 1:44.65 to reach the final.