Karsten Warholm on his way to a Diamond League record in the 400m hurdles in Oslo (© Marta Gorczynska / Diamond League AG)
A nation expected, and just as it had been at the Tokyo Olympics, Karsten Warholm and Jakob Ingebrigtsen delivered. At the Bislett Games, a Wanda Diamond League meeting, in Oslo on Thursday night (15), the Norwegian pair stamped their class, showed their supremacy, blasting to times that make the very idea of defeat this season seem highly improbable.
Warholm ripped around the historic old stadium in his typically reckless fashion, smashing his own Diamond League record with a world-leading 46.52 for the 400m hurdles, while Ingebrigtsen utilised his usual, almost imperceptible, wind-it-up approach to slowly suffocate his rivals, coming home in a European 1500m record of 3:27.95.
Both might have surrendered their global titles in their specialist events last year, but on this evidence, it will take something seismic to stop either reclaiming them in August, with each producing their best ever performance outside a major championship.
Warholm may as well have been racing the 110m hurdles, given the way he rocketed around the first bend, raising a laugh from the stadium commentator at how quickly he’d gobbled up the stagger on the athlete outside him. He was foot-perfect thereafter, reaching slightly into the final barriers before turning on the jets to hit the line in 46.52, the fourth-quickest time in history, and his fourth time under 47 seconds. It means he now holds three of the five fastest times in history. USA’s CJ Allen followed him home in a PB of 47.58, while France’s Wilfried Happio took third with 48.13.
“Today shows in the right circumstances, I can really attack the world record, maybe even this year,” said Warholm. “It really sucked to be out injured last year and I wanted to make sure I came back with a big boom. I've worked really hard to get back to this level.”
The experience of running like he did in front of his home fans is one he won’t forget. “When you're on the track, you're in the bubble, but I really felt the crowd lift me in the home straight,” he said. “The adrenaline was really pumping.”
In the men’s 1500m, the talk of a possible world record attempt was off the table long before Ingebrigtsen toed the line. The requested split at 800m was 1:52 (3:30 pace), signalling Ingebrigtsen was likely feeling the effects of his two-mile world best in Paris last week. Though the lesson there – and here – was worth remembering: no one can negative split quite like the Norwegian.
Jakob Ingebrigtsen celebrates his 1500m performance in Oslo (© Thomas Windestam / Diamond League AG)
In front of packed stands, with a wall of sound following him around the track, Ingebrigtsen passed 800m behind the pacers, who split 1:51.68. Ingebrigtsen was left alone at the front just after 1000m, but instead of pushing things along, he simply maintained, passing 1200m in 2:46.91 and allowing his rivals a sliver of hope as they gathered in his slipstream with 200m to go.
But then he changed gears and, boy, was this impressive, the 22-year-old powering to the line in 3:27.95 to break his own European record. Next in was Spain’s Mohamed Katir (3:28.89), with Yared Nuguse setting a North American record of 3:29.02 in third. Kenya's 2019 world champion Timothy Cheruiyot was just behind in fourth (3:29.08) in a race where eight men broke 3:30 for the first time in history.
“The race went as expected: running by myself as usual and the crowd was amazing,” said Ingebrigtsen. “I know that I was able to run fast like in Paris. That's what it's all about – not what you do in training or say you're going to do but actually running fast in the races. I 100% have more left in me. I just have to keep focused on each race ahead in the build up to Budapest, where it really matters.”
The men’s 5000m produced a captivating head-to-head clash between Ethiopia’s Yomif Kejelcha and Uganda’s Jacob Kiplimo, with both dipping for the line together after 12 and a half hard-fought laps, and both clocking 12:41.73. Kejelcha got the verdict by three thousandths of a second. His time was a meeting record, world lead and PB. Back in third, Ethiopia’s Telahun Haile Bekele set a PB of 12:46.21.
“I expected the finish to be like this, a fight until the end, but I am glad I got it,” said Kejelcha. “It was always my dream to win this event. Now, my next dream is Monaco, and then to become an Olympic champion one day.”
Marie-Josee Ta Lou turned in a fine performance to win the women’s 100m in a world lead of 10.75, with Anthonique Strachan of The Bahamas setting a PB of 10.92 in second and Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson third in 10.98.
Femke Bol continued her dominance on the circuit with a facile win in the 400m hurdles, her 16th consecutive victory. The Dutch star showed her trademark strength over the last two barriers to leave her rivals trailing, hitting the line in a meeting record and world lead of 52.30, close to her PB of 52.03. Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton was next in with 53.84 while Panama’s Gianna Woodruff took third in 54.46.
Femke Bol on her way to a 400m hurdles win in Oslo (© Matthew Quine / Diamond League AG)
“When it comes to the technique, I think I had a good execution today,” said Bol, who has switched her stride pattern this year, now running with 14 steps (instead of 15) to hurdle seven. “I think it was really a bit better today. I think I executed the last two hurdles much better than before.”
Wayde van Niekerk showed he’s shaping up well for an attempt at his third world title later this summer by winning the men’s 400m in 44.38, holding off the late surge of Zambia’s Muzala Samukonga (44.49) and USA’s Vernon Norwood (44.51), with Norway’s Havard Bentdal Ingvaldsen setting a national record of 44.86 in fourth. Though the effort clearly took a toll on the brilliant South African, who stumbled his way through the mixed zone.
“I don't think people realise just how hard this event is both physically and mentally – you can see how long it takes me to recover so that shows I'm still not where I'm meant to be, but I'm getting there,” said Van Niekerk. “I’m just taking it race by race - I try not to think too far ahead but of course, Budapest is a big goal.”
Ethiopia’s Birke Haylom was a class apart in the Dream Mile, the 17-year-old setting a world U20 record of 4:17.13, which took 0.44 off Zola Budd’s previous mark of 4:17.57, set in 1985. Her time was also a world lead and meeting record.
Birke Haylom on her way to a world U20 mile record in Oslo (© Thomas Windestam / Diamond League AG)
Haylom played a patient game behind the pacemakers as 800m was reached in 2:06.61 and 1200m in 3:10.89 before she unleashed a furious kick to dispatch her senior rivals. She was followed home by USA’s Cory Ann McGee, who clocked a PB of 4:18.11, with Australia’s Jessica Hull setting an Oceanian record of 4:18.24 in third.
Beatrice Chebet was a highly impressive winner of the women’s 3000m, leading a Kenyan 1-2-3 with her meeting record, PB and world lead of 8:25.01. She was followed home by Lilian Kasait Rengeruk (8:25.90) and Margaret Chelimo Kipkemboi.
Erriyon Knighton showed he’s very much a contender to win his first world title this year with a meeting record of 19.77 (0.6m/s) to win the men’s 200m, with Cuba’s Reynier Mena second with 20.09 and Liberia’s Joseph Fahnbulleh third with 20.23.
“I’m pleased to take the meeting record from Usain Bolt but I want to make a name for myself at the Diamond League,” said Knighton, who said he faced some challenges after putting on muscle this year. “I need to keep my body strong but I don't want to be too bulky as I am not used to running like that.”
Mondo Duplantis continued his dominance in the men’s pole vault, soaring over 6.01m to take victory, with USA’s Christopher Nilsen second with 5.91m and Ernest John Obiena of the Philippines third with 5.81m. Duplantis went on to take three attempts at a world lead of 6.12m but none were successful.
Mondo Duplantis in action in Oslo (© Thomas Windestam / Diamond League AG)
“I felt really good, I just had some problems to find the rhythm on the runway, choosing which poles to use,” said Duplantis. “Some poles were a little softer than I expected. I know I have got higher jumps in me and I know I am in a good shape. There are just those little things.”
Yulimar Rojas returned to the Diamond League stage with a victory in the women’s triple jump, though the brilliant Venezuelan cut it fine, her opening effort of 14.91m (2.1m/s) her best on the night, with Cuba’s Leyanis Perez Hernandez second with a PB of 14.87m and Maryna Bekh-Romanchuk of Ukraine third with 14.75m.
“It was good,” said Rojas, whole sole competition of the year was a 14.96m in Madrid last weekend. “It was a strange event as I wasn’t able to get longer jumps. I had some faults, which I am not happy about. The best part of today was actually being out here.”
Rojas said she had various problems with her health this year, and missed 15 days of training due to a fall recently. “I couldn’t run, I couldn’t jump or train and this reduced my fitness, but now I’m back and happy and ready to prepare to be better.”
Poland’s Wojciech Nowicki turned in a stunning performance in the men’s hammer, setting a Diamond League record and world lead of 81.92m, which came in the second round. That handed him a clear victory over USA’s Rudy Winkler (79.42m) with Canada’s Ethan Katzberg third (77.93m).
“This competition was very important for me because I finally saw I can come with a really good result,” said Nowicki. “In the next attempts, I was trying to repeat the big throw but nothing worked like it did in the second attempt. But I started to feel good so I hope when the next competition comes, I can repeat this performance.”
Canada’s Sarah Mitton fared best in the women’s shot put, her 19.54m in the first round enough to hand her victory ahead of USA’s Maggie Ewen (19.52m) and Jamaica’s Danniel Thomas-Dodd (19.44m). USA’s Chase Ealey and Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo also threw 19.44m and were edged out of the top three on countback.
“I had a few bad meets and a few people stopped believing in (me) but you know what you are working on and you need to trust,” said Mitton. “I have had a lot of really good training and I knew that it would eventually come together.”
Simon Ehammer of Switzerland showed once again that he is far from a jack of all trades, mastering the field in the men’s long jump to win with a season’s best of 8.32m. USA’s Marquis Dendy was second with 8.26m while Greece’s Miltiadis Tentoglou was third with 8.21m.
Dutch athlete Jorinde van Klinken edged a close battle in the women’s discus, her fifth-round throw of 66.77m enough to beat USA’s Valarie Allman (66.18m) and Croatia’s Sandra Perkovic, who set a season’s best of 65.26. “I definitely don't feel content, it was a big shame to have a big throw that was a foul,” said Allman. “I feel I have a really big throw in me this season so I just have to be patient.”
Cathal Dennehy for World Athletics