Karsten Warholm reclaims his 400m crown as he lands historic third world title in Budapest
On a night when one highly decorated Norwegian athlete’s plan didn’t quite come together, another was creating history in Budapest as Karsten Warholm became the first man in history to win three world titles in the men’s 400m hurdles.
“I feel like the gold medal is back where it belongs,” he grinned.
Just moments after Jakob Ingebrigtsen had been beaten to the 1500m gold for the second year running, his fellow countryman added another honour to his ever growing collection in Hungary.
A hamstring injury in the run-up to Eugene last year meant Warholm was unable to carry on the winning streak which had seen him take gold in 2017 and 2019, as well as breaking the world record in such jaw-dropping fashion at the Tokyo Olympics two years ago.
In 2023, however, he is sitting back on top of the world.
The European champion was a hugely convincing winner, too, clocking 46.89 to take victory with room to spare. There was some surprise at the identity of the silver medallist – two-time Commonwealth champion Kyron McMaster (47.34) – who became the first athlete from the British Virgin Islands to finish on a World Championships podium.
Rai Benjamin (47.56), the American who had been second in the two previous editions of these championships, as well as at the Olympics, took bronze this time.
Brazil’s defending champion Alison Dos Santos, who underwent knee surgery back in February, was fifth in 48.10, just behind Jamaican teenager Roshawn Clarke.
There was immense satisfaction for the victor at a job well done. Being dethroned last year had stung and he knew that, at full strength, he should have too much for his opponents.
“Every gold medal means a lot to me but this one is extra special because I lost it last year,” said Warholm. “I had an injury and a tough season, so it’s a good little comeback story. I learned a lot from that, too.”
It’s Karsten Warholm who takes the crown 👑
The Norwegian titan takes the 400m hurdles title in 46.89 and regains the gold medal 🔥
🥇 London 2017
🥇 Doha 2019
🥇 Budapest 2023 pic.twitter.com/mPezrv3p7X
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) August 23, 2023
Warholm tends to have one mode – all-out attack – and it was no different in Hungary. He knows how to win and there is a self confidence which flows from his approach, as well as knowing how to win.
“It was the perfect run for me,” he said. “I was able to keep my form in the first 250m and I knew that the guys were running their asses off and would be very tired. It was just left for me to turn on the turbos over the last 100m and the race was mine.
“They went out super hard but I knew they were going to get it tough in the end.”
McMaster did finish strongly to come past Benjamin, though, and was revelling in creating his own piece of history.
“This means the world to my country,” said the 26-year-old. “I have been chasing this medal since 2017. I know that I have established my name for the Olympics. I know that I have put myself in medal contention. Once I got into the blocks, I could not hear anybody. I could not hear the stadium. All the world was gone. I had focus on every hurdle.”
Benjamin was not feeling quite so positive. A quad injury had not helped, while he admitted the death of a close friend had also played its part.
“I am proud of myself but I just wanted more,” he said. “It has been a very tough season. I try not to make any excuses, I just cannot put the pieces together in the last half of the race. I just did not have it. I need to be better. I expected so much of myself at these championships. I can run 46 seconds with my eyes closed.”
The problem for the chasing pack, however, is that Warholm’s appetite for success still appears to be huge.
“I love racing,” he said. “I put everything in my life into this and having an injury is tough but it also motivated me to get the gold back. It gets the best out of me. I’m still hungry for more and more. You need to have that to chase the gold medals.”
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