Young Norwegian stuns Olympic champion to win 400m hurdles gold in London
Karsten Warholm stunned the world and himself with a clear-cut victory as he beat a 400m hurdles field including the Olympic champion at the IAAF World Championships in London.
The 21-year-old was the 2013 world youth champion in the octathlon and took the silver medal in the European junior decathlon in 2015.
He has also run a 44.87 400m and he was second in that event in the recent European under-23s. The 400m hurdles is clearly now his real event!
Because of the cold and wind, it was the slowest ever winning time in World Championships history, but the European under-23 champion couldn’t care less as he clearly won in 48.35.
Warholm dominated the first 200m, but he had looked good in his semi-final and had faded slightly and it seemed ominous as he began to slow as he hit the straight with a few metres lead.
USA’s Olympic champion Kerron Clement, who had won the world titles in 2007 and 2009, began to close and looked like he would catch him.
However, the Norwegian took the last hurdle perfectly and held his advantage all the way to the finish.
As he crossed the line, Warholm looked stunned and delighted and celebrated wildly wearing a Viking hat he got from the crowd.
It was Norway’s first track gold since Ingrid Kristiansen won the Rome 10,000m in 1987.
Though he didn’t win his two heats in London, he has been unbeaten in finals in 2017, impressively winning the Oslo Diamond League in front of a home crowd.
After the race, he said: “Thank you, London! I truly don’t believe it. I’ve worked so hard for this. This is an amazing feeling. I’m world champion, that’s crazy. A lot of hard work and dedication has got me here so thank you to my coach for getting me in a position to challenge for a world title.
“I got out well and managed to hold it really well. I’m so proud of my performance. I hope people back in Norway are as happy as I am. Decathlon gave me a really good base coming into the hurdles.”
Behind him, Clement didn’t even make second as he got his stride pattern wrong over the final hurdle and Turkey’s Olympic bronze medallist and European champion Yasmani Copello again finished strongly and snatched the silver in 48.49.
Clement was third in 48.52, almost a second down on his winning time from Osaka of 47.61, where conditions were more favourable.
Qatar’s Abderrehaman Samba, the same age as the winner, was in a medal position over the last hurdle but his legs seemed to buckle on landing and he did a strange Samba dance of his own and struggled in seventh in 49.74.
Jamaican NCAA runner-up Kemar Mowatt was a surprisingly high fourth, just one hundredth of a second up on the 2016 NCAA runner-up TJ Holmes as both 22-year-olds were running in their first major global final.
Another 22-year-old Juander Santos, who is the brother of 2012 silver medallist Luguelín, kept the youthful theme going by taking sixth in 49.04. While times were disappointing the age of most finalists suggest they will return faster and stronger in years to come.
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