Warholm wins sports star status

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UPDATED: Karsten Warholm has suddenly emerged as Norway’s great new hope in track and field events, overshadowing even the Ingebrigtsen brothers on home turf at Thursday night’s Bislett Games in Oslo. Warholm’s victory in the 400-meter hurdles caught lots of attentionm and then he beat everyone again at another Diamond League competition in Stockholm over the weekend.

Norway’s new track and field superstar is Karsten Warholm, born in the West Coast town of Ulsteinvik in the Norwegian district of Sunnmøre. PHOTO: Wikipedia

Newspaper Aftenposten claimed on Friday that the 21-year-old Warholm from Sunnmøre “outclassed the world’s elite” who were in Oslo to compete at the annual track and field event. State broadcaster NRK was hailing Warholm as well, after he broke his own record and fell to his knees in jubilation.

“It was an above-average experience for a young Sunnmøring,” Warholm told Aftenposten afterwards. “I’m trying to enjoy the moment. This is the result of a lot of work, only that lies behind it.” He allowed himself some pure joy, though: “This is pure and simple a dream that’s been fulfilled.”

Top athletes and former athletes like Steinar Hoen, who now runs the Bislett Games, think Warholm is good enough to copy the medals’ list of Norwegian javelin champion Andrea Thorkildsen, who won five world championships. Asked whether Warholm can take gold at the World Championships in London in August, Hoen didn’t hesitate: “Yes.”

Warholm’s winning time of 48.25 seconds was the third-fastest recorded in the world so far this year. “If he hadn’t run into the 10th hurdle he could have run in less than 48 seconds,” Hoen claimed. Vebjørn Rodal, who won gold for Norway at the Olympics in Atlanta, was just as enthusiastic and said Warholm must dare to talk about winning World Championship gold.

The modest Warholm refused to do so as he boarded a train to compete in Diamond League competition in Stockholm on Sunday:  “This sport is like porcelain, you can crack at any time. I can suddenly fall on my way into the train and not be able to run in Stockholm or at the World Championships.”

As it turned out, he ran fastest of all in Stockholm and ended up with two Diamond League victories in four days, and ranked as overall leader. His time in the same event, the 400-meter hurdles, was a bit weaker at 48.82 seconds, but commentators were impressed. “He outclassed everyone who’s here,” said NRK’s Jann Post.

While others also cheered Warholm on, Norwegian sports fans could enjoy seeing 16-year-old Jakob Ingebrigtsen win the English Mile race at the Bislett Games. He said he was running for his older brother Henrik, who had to drop out of Bislett Games competition  to undergo surgery on his hamstring this week, carried out by the same doctor who operated on football star David Beckham. He’s likely out for the season, leaving brothers Jakob and Filip to keep running and preserve the family honour.

The Oslo Bislett Games attracted thousands Thursday night to the venerable stadium in an urban neighbourhood that once hosted the 1952 Winter Olympics. Organizers of the event faced challenges when long-time sponsor Exxon-Mobil withdrew last year.

Newspaper Dagens Næringsliv (DN) reported in March, however, that budgets were cut from more than NOK 20 million during the Exxon-Mobil days to around NOK 16 million this year and the event was re-billed as “green,” in partnership with environmental organization Zero that had athletes taking trains and trams instead of gas-guzzling cars to get around town. They all stayed at hotels around Oslo’s central train station and the Games were scheduled for just before the Diamond League event in Stockholm, which also cut transport costs.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund