After producing one of the highlights of the Games in Tokyo last year, obliterating the world record running 45.94, Warholm’s 2022 season has this far been a tragic failure.
Warholm has yet to finish a single race. There has been a lot of speculation if he would even take part in the upcoming World Championships in Eugene, Oregon.
After having an MRI in Oslo which confirmed the injury, Warholm visited the clinic of the German doctor Hans Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt in Munich, who several times helped Usain Bolt in the lead up to past Championships.
There were reasons for optimism as Warholm departed for the Norwegian World Championships pre-camp at Berkeley, California last week. Warholm left late due to the Scandinavian Airlines pilot strike. However as his team had a contingency plan in place, his departure was only slightly delayed.
During a press conference (link includes video to part of a press conference in English) hosted by his shoe sponsor Puma on Wednesday, Warholm indicated that he now feels he is good to go.
Sitting next to the main favourite in the women’s High Jump, Ukraine’s Yaroslava Mahuchikh, Warholm highlighted that his situation is not a disaster in the great scheme of things. It is just a personal disaster for him. He did however sound confident saying:
“Now I feel like we are back, we did some testing coming into this also at the pre-camp in Berkeley and yeah I feel pretty safe to say that now we are really going in there and we are going 100%, you know there is no such thing as going into a championship and feeling just okay, you know I am the title defender and if I am going there, it is because I feel I have something to come with, and now I can say that I feel good to go and when I feel good to go, then I go 100%.”
Even as he sounded bullish, Warholm easily admitted that the last period had been a struggle:
“The last five-six weeks have been pretty close to hell. It has been challenging, it has been very challenging because you get this thing and you don’t know how each day will go.”
Answering a question if, “he had been able to replicate in training some of the same pressures physically of racing”, Warholm sounded confident:
“Do you remember my first 400 hurdles last year? It was a World Record, I can tell you. (Our note he ran 46.70 on June 1 2021, during the Diamond League in Oslo). But at the same time, it is very tough, because of course you want to run some races to get some confidence, but on the other hand, confidence is not my problem. So it is going to be challenging in the sense of, I don’t know what I can bring to the table, but I know for sure that all the training until the injury happened was very very good and you know I can measure myself towards all the benchmarks we have in training and when I compare that it looks very good and the last five weeks has just been about getting healthy and you know it is not the ideal way to go into a championship obviously.”
Warholm went on to say:
“I need to feel 100% fit and I think I am, but time will show I guess.”
It now seems clear that even as the last few weeks have been exceptionally difficult, Warholm will be on the start line for the heats of the men’s 400 hurdles.
Considering the performances put down by the raising star Allison dos Santos, who recently turned 22, so far this year as well as the fact that the immensely talented Rai Benjamin will have a “home field” advantage, the task at hand is a daunting one for Warholm. It is easy to agree that he needs to be 100% fit to have a fighting chance.
Warholm’s team has in the past expressed some scepticism regarding the development of shoes. As this is the case, many were surprised to learn last week that they together with Puma have developed a super shoe, which Warholm himself seems to think is capable of moving the boundaries of performance.
Talking to NRK last week he said that he is hoping to be at 100% so that he will be able to do the shoe justice during the World Championships.
Coach Alnes who holds a master’s degree in biomechanics admitted that it had been very exciting to work with Puma developing the shoe, even though he in some ways would prefer the shoes to remain the same, as the recent shoe development makes it difficult to compare today’s performances with historic performances.
He proceeded to say that it would be bad for the sport of athletics if it develops into a sport where it will be possible to buy success off the track, through the development of superior shoes.
However as all the shoe companies are constantly researching and developing, he went on to say that it is far from sure that the playing field is uneven.
Another cause for concern for the Norwegian stars like Karsten Warholm and Jakob Ingebrigtsen is a Covid-outbreak wreaking havoc in the Norwegian pre-camp.
So far five have tested positive. The 800 runner Hedda Hynne is the only athlete, as four of the positives have been supporting personnel.