Karsten Warholm’s much awaited season debut lasted less than ten seconds.
Taking off approaching the first hurdle, in his preferred lane 7, Warholm felt that something was not right with his right hamstring. This put him slightly off balance and made his right knee hit the first hurdle. Warholm pulled up abruptly while holding his right thigh, shortly after having cleared the hurdle.
When Khallifah Rosser crossed the finish line, as the winner, in a new meeting record time of 48.25, Warholm had already gotten hold of an ice bag which he held against his hamstring.
Warholm first indicated that he thought the injury was a muscle tear:
“I am very disappointed for this injury. I think it’s a hamstring tear, I will focus on treating it and come back stronger. I will also feel sorry for the crowd”.
He did however later indicate that “It’s probably a cramp”.
Coach Leif Olav Alnes, who Warholm has given a lot of credit for his success the last years, quickly made it clear that it was impossible to say anything for sure until the injury had been properly examined.
Yesterday, Warholm’s hamstring was examined in Oslo. After the MRI, Doctor Thomas Torgalsen indicated to Norwegian media that even as Warholm is likely to take part, he runs a risk of missing the World Championships in Eugene, USA.
The injury is barely visible on the MRI. The average time needed to heal such an injury is some three to four weeks.
However, Torgalsen also indicated that it is difficult to give a precise estimate, as it varies a lot from case to case how long injuries of this nature take to heal. Warholm could plausibly be fine after just one week, but can also possibly be out for six weeks.
Doctor Torgalsen works at the Elite Sports Centre for Olympiatoppen an organization that is part of the Norwegian Olympic Committee and is likely to be closely involved with the team surrounding Warholm during the next few weeks.
Torgalsen expects Warholm’s injury to initially improve rapidly, but the speed of the last stretch towards full fitness is hard to predict.
This is one of the most common injuries for sprinters and due to the nature of sports at the highest level, it is obvious that elite athletes always run a risk of aggravating such injuries.
According to Torgalsen, participation in the 2022 World Championships is seen as a realistic goal, but is far from guaranteed and he cautions that everyone needs to realize that there is a risk that Warholm will be unable to take part.
Warholm has made clear that he felt great warming up and that there were no pre-race indications of any injury, still he did not get his usual bullet start and was not noticeably ahead of Rosser when he first felt the injury while taking off to clear the first hurdle.
Together with Jakob Ingebrigtsen, Warholm was supposed to be the main attraction at the Bislett Games (Diamond League Oslo) on June 18, but due to the injury it has already been ruled out that Warholm will take part.
The last Diamond League event before Oregon2022 in Stockholm on June 30, will have a men’s 400 hurdles, but this meeting too is also reportedly not an option for Warholm.
Based on the available information it seems uncertain but likely that Warholm will be running in one of the world’s best looking athletics stadiums in 5 weeks and 2 days, when the men’s 400 hurdles heats of the World Athletics Championships in Oregon is scheduled to start. However, even if Warholm should make it to Eugene, how race sharp he will be is likely to be a conundrum.
Considering that the 400 hurdles, both men’s and women’s, were some of the highlights of Tokyo2021, it is far from an exaggeration that track and field buffs are looking forward to these races during Oregon2022.
Ironically, Warholm is not the only high caliber 400hurdler carrying a hamstring injury at the moment. Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba pulled out of the Diamond League opener after injuring his hamstring while warming up.
Rai Benjamin who bested the Tokyo pre-race World Record by more than half a second, yet still had to settle for the silver medal, sat out Pre Classic (Eugene Diamond League) with illness. He ran well clocking a 47.49 in windy conditions, even as he was beaten by Allison dos Santos (47.24), in Doha.
Benjamin was announced to take part in the USTAF NYC Grand Prix at the Ichan Stadium on Randalls Island in New York, on Sunday June 12, but has withdrawn.
With Warholm and Samba injured and Benjamin ill, it is far from impossible that dos Santos who turned 22 just a few days ago, can become the event’s next World Champion in 5-6 weeks.
The spectacular year for the 400 hurdles in 2021, will be hard to top. Even so, with athletes like McLaughlin, Bol, Muhammed, Warholm, Benjamin and Dos Santos in the event, who knows what the July-races in Oregon have in store for us.