Karsten Warholm breaks 400m hurdles world record

Norwegian will be gold medal favourite for Tokyo Games

As if on cue it seemed Karsten Warholm finally broke the world record over the 400 metres hurdles at the Oslo Bislett Games when making his 2021 Diamond League debut.

Running in front of a home crowd, the Norwegian clocked a magnificent 46.70 seconds, Warholm himself hardly believing the significance of that time.

The two-time world champion had come close to the world 400m hurdles record of 46.78 on several occasions over the past two years. He had twice broken 47 seconds and owned five other performances within half a second of Kevin Young’s long-standing mark set back in 1992.

Last weekend Warholm slipped from second to third on the world all-time list after USA’s Rai Benjamin clocked 46.83 to win the US Olympic Trials in Eugene.


The bigger target here though, was to break Young’s record once and for all - taking almost a metre of that 46.78 mark with his 46.70.

The 25-year-old will now become the gold medal favourite for Tokyo. Hoping and perhaps expecting to run a fast time in the same race, Thomas Barr went out similarly fast in the same race, but pulled up before the finish with what appeared a minor muscle strain, hopefully nothing worse.

On Tuesday in Lucerne, Barr had continued his excellent build-up to Tokyo with victory in the 400m hurdles: after winning a ninth national title in Santry at the weekend, Barr took the win in 49.12 seconds, getting the better of the American Quincy Downing, second in 49.42. Not an ideal send off in Oslo, but some comfort perhaps in being a part of the fastest 400m hurdles in history: 46.70 seconds.

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan

Ian O'Riordan is an Irish Times sports journalist writing on athletics