Warholm Wins 400-Meter Hurdles Race Hit by Environmental Protest in Stockholm

By Reuters
July 3, 2023Sports News
Warholm Wins 400-Meter Hurdles Race Hit by Environmental Protest in Stockholm
Norway's Karsten Warholm competes during the men's 400-meter hurdles competition of the Diamond League gala in Stockholm on July 2, 2023. (Fredrik Persson/various sources/AFP via Getty Images)

STOCKHOLM—Norway’s Olympic champion Karsten Warholm won the men’s 400 meters hurdles in a race that was hindered by a protest from environmentalists at a rain-hit Galan Diamond League meet on Sunday.

Three protesters from A22 Network, who interrupted the Swedish final of “Let’s Dance” on TV4 last month, knelt on the track about 10 meters from the finish line, stretching a banner across six lanes, forcing most of the field to run through it.

Warholm, running out in lane eight, was not affected.

“It is permissible to protest, but this is not the way to do it,” Warholm told Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “It is disrespectful to those who are here to do a good job.

“I must honestly admit that I’m pissed off.”

The 27-year-old double world champion, who slapped his thighs and let out a loud whoop during the introductions, ran blind in the outside lane en route to a time of 47.57 seconds.

While he was a way off his world record of 45.94 set at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, two victories in two races bodes well for the World Athletics Championships scheduled for Aug. 19–27 in Budapest after an injury-riddled 2022 season.

It was not a day for records with the weather—driving rain for most of the night and a chilly 15 C—playing spoiler. The crowd at Stockholm Stadium huddled in red rain ponchos.

“I felt very good before the start but the conditions make it a little bit more challenging, but I felt I had to get in and got to post another good time, so I am very pleased,” Warholm said. “I am 100 percent exactly where I want to be.”

World Record Attempt

The rain wreaked havoc with numerous events, particularly the much-anticipated men’s pole vault featuring local hero Armand Duplantis.

The event was delayed more than two hours due to safety concerns. Fans stuck around to watch more than an hour after every other event had finished and vaulters cradled cups of tea to keep warm.

Duplantis, the Olympic and world champion, cleared 6.05 meters on his first attempt to win. He then missed on three attempts at 6.23, which would have topped his world record of 6.22.

Kristjan Ceh of Slovenia threw 69.83 meters despite the slick throwing circle to win the men’s discus. Daniel Stahl of Sweden, who was second, hit an official in the shoulder with his throw. Broadcasters said the official was unhurt.

Freweyni Hailu led a trio of Ethiopians in the top three spots in the women’s 1,500m, surging into the lead with half a lap remaining to finish in 4:02.31.

“The victory is great but the competition was not ideal due to the weather. But we have to adapt to all conditions,” Hailu said. “I believe in more victories to come this season.

Kenyan Beatrice Chebet won a tactical women’s 5,000, opening a yawning gap on the field with 300 meters remaining to clock a season’s best 14:36.52.

“The first thing was to get the win today and the second was to fight with these conditions,” said Chebet, silver medallist in the event at the 2022 world championships. “Yes, the weather was not really good but you need to run in any conditions.”

Olympic champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco won the men’s 3,000m steeplechase, beginning his celebrations with 50m remaining to win in 8:09.84.

With Lamecha Girma of Ethiopia breaking the steeplechase world record last month in Paris, there could be a thrilling battle between the African pair at the worlds in Hungary.

Akani Simbine of South Africa, a top-five finisher in the last three world championships, was not really challenged en route to victory in the men’s 100 meters in 10.03 seconds.

“I just wanted the win here and I got it so glad at the moment and let’s go building up on it,” Simbine said. “In such conditions, I think the time was fast … I do not like rain, I was cold. I just went there and ran.”