Reigning world and European 400m hurdles champion Karsten Warholm from Norway decimated the world best in the 300m hurdles in a solo display at the Impossible Games in Oslo on Thursday (11) evening.
Warholm is one of the sport’s most ebullient and entertaining characters and he delivered another rousing performance in an almost deserted Bislett Stadium due to the prevailing safety and infection control rules.
Warholm made his international breakthrough in the 400m hurdles on this track three years ago in front of a near capacity stadium and the 24-year-old demonstrated he was still able to get himself suitably amped up and race-ready in spite of the lack of atmosphere - and competition - in one of the most hallowed stadiums in Europe.
Taking to the blocks in his favoured lane seven, Warholm blasted down the back straight over the first two flights and despite stuttering somewhat into the fourth hurdle, Warholm powered into the home straight in his head-to-head against the clock. His confirmed time of 33.78 took a significant chunk off the previous world best of 34.48 which belonged to Chris Rawlinson, although Warholm himself had run slightly faster on an oversized indoor track with 34.26.
“It was a little funny because Leif Olav [Karsten’s coach] said ‘maybe you can beat the record in half a second?’ and I said 'no, are you sick to the head!' But I trained well and when he said that I had some faith and it began to sink in. It's so beautiful,” Warholm told NRK after the race.
Warholm’s world best was followed by a European record in the 2000m for Jakob Ingebrigtsen. The double European champion crossed the finish-line in 4:50.01 to take down the long-standing record of 4:51.39 which was set by Steve Cram - who was commentating on this race for the BBC - in 1985 and move to sixth on the world all-time list.
The virtual head-to-head with the Kenyans in Nairobi didn’t quite materialise in the way that was hoped. Not only was Team Cheruiyot disadvantaged by the altitude in the Kenyan capital, they were further handicapped by incessant rain and a driving wind. Only two of the five Kenyans - Timothy Cheruiyot (5:03.05) and Elijah Manangoi (5:18.63) - finished and with three needed to score, victory went to the Ingebrigtsens.
Behind Jakob, Henrik continued his fine early season form by finishing a close second in 4:53.72 while former world 1500m bronze medallist Filip finished third in 4:56.91 less than one hour after setting a national record of 2:16.46 in the 1000m.
'We tried to go sub-five minutes and we felt pretty good, I've done a lot of good training over the last week. I had to go for it on the last lap, though,' commented Jakob Ingebrigtsen,
'Of course this race was also a team competition, I was also racing against the Kenyans. Cheruiyot was obviously our main competitor. He's the reigning World Champion so of course we wanted to beat him, which isn't easy, but we're really happy with our team's effort, perfect pacemakers and our whole team getting some good races and a good start to the season,' added the youngest of the trio of brothers in the race.
A second European record of the night came from Sondre Nordstad Moen in the rarely run 25,000m.
Moen covered the distance in 1:12:46.5 to take a sizeable chunk off the previous record held by the late German Stephane Franke who clocked 1:13:57.6 in 1999. Moen's splits en route were 28:37.9 for 10,000m and 57:55.0 for 20,000m.
In his first official competition since his stunning indoor season, world record-holder Armand Duplantis cleared 5.86m on his third attempt to win the virtual pole vault competition against Renaud Lavillenie by one clear height. The Frenchman was competing at home in Clermont-Ferrand and after a shaky start with three attempts at both 5.36m and 5.51m, Lavillenie kept the pressure on Duplantis with a first-time clearance at 5.81m before bowing out at 5.86m.
World discus champion Daniel Stahl also threw 65.92m in the discus to beat teammate Simon Pettersson's 64.54m.