Karsten Warholm, Norway’s best hope for a gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in London this week, beat a full retreat from the media glare after he qualified on Monday for the final in the men’s 400-meter hurdles. The new star Norwegian athlete wants to have complete concentration and calm before he runs in the final Wednesday evening.
“Karsten now has full focus on the final,” said the press chief for Norway’s national athletics foundation (Norske Friidrettsforbund), Morten Olsen, on Tuesday, in explaining why Warholm wouldn’t grant any interviews or photo sessions. “Right now that’s the sort of detail that can be decisive.”
The 21-year-old Warholm, who called his performance on Monday a new “milestone” in his burgeoning athletics career, had already moved forward on Sunday to the semi-finals on Monday, taking third place in what commentators described as a “controlled” race. He didn’t expend any extra energy unnecessarily on Monday either, telling newspaper Aftenposten right after the race that he “went out hard as usual” in the semi-final. “I use energy when I have it, and that’s at the start. I just let it happen. It was really great to have the lead, then it was just for the others to come up from behind.” He placed second in his heat, behind only Olympic winner Kerron Clement.
Asked what he thinks his chances are for a medal at the finals on Wednesday, Warholm called that a “cheap question” that he hadn’t “trained up any answer for. But it’s very important to be humble about this here. There’s still a job to do. But I think that getting to the final is a milestone for me.”
He had earlier claimed with a smile that he planned to do “nothing” between the semi-finals and the final. “OK, I’ll probably watch some TV and see how the other athletes here are doing,” he said. Otherwise he planned to “just enjoy” the day off from his usual regime of seven hours of training, and save his energy until it really matters.