The Men’s 400m hurdles will be incredible in Eugene, Oregon. All three of the main players, Karsten Warholm, Rai Benjamin, and Alison Dos Santos will be there. Here is the story of Karsten Warholm, for those who might have forgotten!
In 2017, Karsten Warholm came screaming onto the 400m hurdles (note, he had run the 400m hurdles since 2013, along with the 400m and the decathlon). A former multi-eventer, with impeccable technique and deadly 400m speed, Warholm was a player in every event that he raced.
In July 2017, Karsten Warholm won the European U23 400m hurdles in 48.37. Then, in the same U23 champs, Karsten won the flat 400m in 45.75. That was an impressive double.
In London, in the rain, Karsten Warholm won the World Championships 400m hurdles in an unremarkable time of 48.35. A couple of weeks later, he broke his own NR with a time of 48.22.
In 2018, at the European Championships held in Berlin, Karsten Warholm was totally impressive, running a gold medal-winning performance of 47.64. It was his PB and a U23 European record. Karsten was going from pretty good Norwegian athlete to best in Europe.
2019 opened even better, as the Norwegian star won the European Indoor 400 meters, held in Glasgow Scotland in March 2019. Karsten Warholm won the 400m indoors in 45.05! That swift run equaled the 400m European indoor record by none other than German star Thomas Schonloebe way back in 1988! Heads were beginning to turn, this Warholm was fast even without his Viking helmet on!
Outdoors, Karsten Warholm went on a tear! First, in June 2019, at his favorite meet, the Bislett Games, in Oslo, Norway, Warlhom ran a European record and NR of 47.33! Then, in July 2019, at the Muller Anniversary Games, Karsten did it again, running a European record and NR of 47.12! It was in August 2019, that Karsten Warholm went under 47 seconds for the first time, 46.92, leading Rai Benjamin of the US to a 47.98, taking two men under 47 seconds! Karsten Warholm became the 3rd man under 47 seconds and Benjamin the 4th man under 47 seconds in the intermediate hurdles.
As you know, the 400-meter hurdles is a sadist’s race. It combines the lactic zapping fatigue of a 400-meter flat race, where one runs out of muscle energy about 300 meters and runs on purse guts for the last one hundred meters. Add to that ten hurdles, that seem to get bigger as the race gets longer. This writer has had several athletes swear that the hurdles get higher the longer you race in a 400m hurdle event!
In Doha, in October 2019, Karsten Warholm took the gold, once again, with his lead from early on, and push, push, push-style in 47. 42, with Rai Benjamin of the US in silver, 47.66, and Abderraham Samba in 48.02, taking the bronze.
2020 was a strange year, as the pandemic hit. In June 2020, at the Impossible Games, held in Oslo, Norway, Karsten Warholm ran a race over the 300m hurdles in 33.78, breaking the world best set by Chris Rawlinson, who ran 34.48 for the three hundred meter hurdles in 2002. That summer, Warholm ran without the Olympics as motivation, but found motivation on August 23, 2020, as Karsten became the first man to run under 47 seconds for the 400m hurdles twice, with his 46.87, a new European record, and oh so close to the Kevin Young World record of 46.78.
It would take nearly another year for Karsten Warholm to have the World Record at the 400m hurdles!
On July 1, 2021, Karsten Warholm ran 46.70, breaking the almost unbreakable WR set by Kevin Young way back in 1992, of 46.78! It was a brilliant run, and he looked smooth from hurdle one to hurdle ten, and pushed himself across the line, to the delight of his countrymen and women. Karsten Warholm broke the World Record at the historic Bislett Games, held in Oslo, Norway!
But, he would surpass his new WR in the Tokyo Olympics in his battle with the American hurdler, Rai Benjamin.
In the Tokyo 2020 Olympic final (held on August 3, 2021), Karsten Warholm got out well, and at just about the 8th hurdle, Rai Benjamin came alongside, and, to this observer, it looked like Benjamin would gain the upper hand. But he did not, as Warholm willed himself on, destroying his WR by 0.76 with a 45.94! It was an almost impossible time, and in second, far from giving up, Rai Benjamin took silver in 46.17. Both had broken the world record, in one race, with Alison Dos Santos in third in 46.72.
In 2022, Karsten Warholm opened up at Rabat, on June 5, and did not clear the first hurdle, damaging his leg in the process. The sports world had held its breath as Warholm worked to rehab and prepare himself for a defense of his Doha title. This Eugene gold would be his third in a row.
To L’Equipe, in a media video conference this past week, Karsten Warholm said: “In any case, I don’t know if I will be 100% in Eugene. Since the Tokyo Olympics, I have done everything to be able to be at my maximum during these Worlds. And then this injury happened. Will my hamstrings support my comeback after five weeks? Won’t I also risk hurting myself even more seriously? I will use all my experience, but I must not neglect the long term. Still, of course, I really want to be at the start in Eugene. I don’t need to break a world record in every competition, the limits have already been pushed back in Tokyo, and my body may have been marked by it. But for these Worlds, I am of course aiming for gold, the idea is not to go jogging there!”
Karsten Warhlom noted much realism to the media team at La Gazzetta Dello Sport: “I have the most difficult challenge in my career. I have great respect for them (Benjamin and Dos Santos). Dos Santos’s progress does not surprise me.”
Prior to the World Championships, Rai Benjamin ran 47.04 in the US Champs on June 26. And at the last Diamond League meeting prior to Eugene, Alison Dos Santos ran 46.80 WL.
The stage is set! Watch for Karsten Warholm, Rai Benjamin, and Alison Dos Santos to give it their all. We will have to wait until July 16, 2022, at 4:20 PM to see how the 400m hurdle rounds go!
(Special thanks to EME News)