Loosen shoulders, pressure on the starting block.
Step, step, step, first hurdle.
Second hurdle: Karsten Warholm passes Alison dos Santos, the man who holds the South American record.
Thirteen steps between each hurdle, it goes on.
Penultimate hurdle, Rai Benjamin, just behind Warholm.
The legs are heavy, the lactate rushes into the muscles.
Move arms, keep step.
Last hurdle: They only fly over the obstacle with a slight delay.
Home straight: Benjamin's step flattens, Warholm sprints the last thirty meters away: world record, 45.94 seconds.
Less than 46 seconds.
Follow I follow
Karsten Warholm, Norwegian, 25 years old, has broken his own world record.
He was 76 hundredths faster.
Warholm pushes the boundaries.
At the finish he tears off his jersey and crouches on the floor.
Stop for a moment.
He gets up, opens his eyes.
He runs to Benjamin, who is crouching on the floor, and presses his head against the competitor's.
Then he goes to dos Santos, the bronze medalist, and fists him.
World records are not run alone. Athletes need each other's breath on their necks, the sound of the footsteps behind them, in order to push their own physical limits. In Warholm's case, that man was Rai Benjamin. Benjamin, 24 years old, born in New York, son of a cricketer, with 46.17 seconds now the second fastest man over 400 meter hurdles. Faster than Warholms old record of 46.70 seconds, which he ran on July 1st at the Diamond League meeting in Oslo. "It could take another world record to win the Olympics," said Warholm after his race there. And he knew that if he did, Benjamin would help him. Two weeks ago the Norwegian said: “He will give me a good fight.” And after the race: “Rai Benjamin would have deserved gold too.“The beginning of a great friendship? Hardly likely.
Warholm wanted this victory and he knows the art of staging this victory. The night before the competition he was lying awake. He had a certain feeling in his chest. He felt like a six-year-old on Christmas Eve. “I knew this race was going to be the toughest of my life, but I was ready. I dreamed about it like a madman, I tell you. I spent all my time thinking about it, ”said Warholm in the mixed zone after the competition. Warholm loves sophisticated strategies. In this race he wanted to put his competitors under pressure right from the start. “That was my tactic to force the guys into a really, really tough race.” In his spare time, Warholm likes to tinker with things. He builds with Lego bricks. His first project: a Bugatti racing car,3599 individual parts. His most difficult set yet. That shows how Warholm approaches things: do it once.
At the 2017 World Athletics Championships in London, he followed exactly that motto. The track damp, rain and cold. Warholm runs off like a madman and doesn't stop. He beats the American Kerron Stephon Clement, the Olympic medalist from Rio 2016. Warholm opens his mouth, Warholm always opens something wide. And put his fingers in his open mouth. "I just ran off," said Warholm afterwards. World Cup 2019 in Doha, same game. After his World Championship victory, Warholm bought a Porsche 911 Turbo S. Obsessed with the frenzy of speed. In Tokyo, he wears Puma spikes, which he helped develop, adapted to his needs and his running style. The time of coincidences is long gone. Is it fast, maybe too fast? The French hurdler Ludvy Vaillant said after the race: "We're running against monsters,Karsten (Warholm), (Rai) Benjamin, (Abderrahman) Samba, Alison dos Santos and the others. “The level is getting higher and higher. Rai Benjamin, on the other hand, said: "It was the greatest race in the history of the Olympic Games."