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February 20, 2018

Norway hurdler Warholm aiming to avoid cracking like porcelain

Norway hurdler Warholm aiming to avoid cracking like porcelain
'Norway's Karsten Warholm celebrates after winning the final of the men's 400m hurdles at the 2017 IAAF World Championships in London ' - By: AFP Jewel SAMAD

London (AFP) - Norwegian Karsten Warholm aped 'The Scream' by Edvard Munch when he realised he had won the men's 400 metres hurdles title and his victory could prove as valuable to the sport as the painting is to the Norwegian tourism industry.

Athletics is desperately seeking new and quirky characters to fill the huge vacuum that will be left by the retirement of Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt and to a lesser extent British distance legend Mo Farah.

Warholm fills several boxes being only 21 years old and exhibiting an exciting style of running, showing no fear in leading from the gun to the tape and leaving one of the all-time greats in Kerron Clement trailing in his wake.

Not bad for someone who was doing the decathlon not so long ago. He has taken to the event like a duck to water.

"I truly don't believe it," said Warholm, who donned a Viking hat on his lap of honour.

"I've worked so hard for this, but I don't know what I have done.

"This is an amazing feeling. I'm world champion, that's crazy."

Warholm, who hails from the tiny town of Ulsteinvik -- population just over 6,000, says in self-deprecatory fashion he wouldn't be able to run any other way.

"I have one way to do it, and I did it," he said.

"I'm young, I'm stupid, going hard works for me."

Warholm, who hinted he could be a danger when he won at the Bislett Games and then Stockholm Diamond League meets earlier this year, said that he didn't want to sound arrogant but he wouldn't have stood a chance of winning if he'd lacked self-belief despite being a relative novice.

"I think everyone has to believe they will become a world champion," he said.

"These two (silver and bronze medallists Yasmani Copello and Kerron Clement) are good competitors and I have respect for them.

"This event was wide open so I'm not saying I’m a better runner, it was just my day. The times were not that good as there were challenging conditions, but that didn’t matter. It was all about the win."

'Sport is like porcelain'

Warholm, who was giving Norway their first world gold in the event, said accepting his coach's advice to switch to the hurdles had not been a bone of contention.

"It wasn't that hard for him," he said.

"We are cooperating very well.

"We are on the same frequency -– we both have very bad sense of humour.

"We felt it (400m hurdles) was working over the winter so we gave it a shot. He is a great guy."

Warholm also made light of the terrible weather conditions which saw the final take place in pouring rain.

"For me this is a Norwegian summer," he joked.

"There were no worries, it is almost an advantage for me. You have to take it as it is."

However, before athletics chiefs get too excited about the prospect of Warholm being one of the new poster boys he also knows that sport can be a fickle friend.

"This sport is like porcelain, you can crack at any time," he said earlier this year.

"I can suddenly fall on my way into the train."

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