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Tokyo Olympics 2020: Five things to know about Karsten Warholm - the new 400m hurdles champion

·4 min read

Tokyo: Karsten Warholm blitzed his own 400 metres hurdles world record in winning the Olympic title in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Here are five things on the Norwegian who stopped the clock at a remarkable 45.94 seconds to take gold:

Beginner's luck sparks lifetime passion

As a boy, 25-year-old Warholm eschewed traditional Norwegian sports like long-distance skiing, claiming he did not have the physique for it.

Running became a passion instead, his interest sparked by a friend in his hometown Ulsteinvik, on the northwest coast of Norway.

"A friend of mine, he was in the track and field club and he came and said, 'You need to join this race,'" Warholm told Track and Field News in December 2019.

"I was there in my jeans and this t-shirt that was way too big for me or whatever.

"So I joined the race and I won; I think it was 200m or something, just around a county building. That was when I started.

"So the rest is history, as they say."

Partnership with veteran coachThe moment that set Warholm on the path to Tuesday's astonishing performance began when he teamed up with veteran coach Leif Olav Alnes in 2015.

That partnership led to Warholm ditching his early efforts in the decathlon in favour of the hurdles in 2016.

Warholm told Alnes there was no need for him to work full-time with him as the coach was about to retire. But the coach saw something special in the confident young man and decided it was all or nothing.

Warholm says their coach-athlete relationship is not all serious and there are plenty of fun moments.

"Our relationship is like a typical boys' friendship," he told Spikes in 2019.

"We mock each other, we have a lot of fun together, and we share the same humour.

"It's like we're the same age mentally €" whatever age that is, whether it's five years or 50."

Warholm says while he likes a full night's sleep, Alnes' mind is spinning so fast he can rely on only a few hours.

"He (Alnes) thinks all the time. He thinks about how can we improve? How can we make things better?

"For me, that's the biggest value he adds. How often do you find a nerd that is also socially gifted."

A wise old head on young shoulders

Warholm may seem an extrovert - just look at his open-mouthed astonishment after seeing his time on Tuesday - but he does not get to be the sole public voice in the relationship with Alnes.

Alnes says what struck him from the moment they met is that Warholm has a maturity beyond his years.

"So many times people have said I am a young soul in an old body and it is vice versa for you (Warholm)," Alnes told worldathletics.com in July.

"I feel extremely privileged to work with him. When I met him, he was 20. I was amazed €" how can so much wisdom get into the head of a 20-year-old?"

Record-breaker, Lego builder

To pass his time during the height of the coronavirus pandemic Warholm developed a passion for... Lego.

He used the lockdown to hone his skills on Lego building projects including Manchester United's Old Trafford Stadium - all 3,898 pieces of it.

"I got into building Lego which was a nice way to recharge and focus on something else that I enjoy," he told the BBC in July.

He said he was attracted by the challenge and a sense of nostalgia.

"To relive moments I had as a kid is nice as I'm a sentimental person, so it's been fun getting into it again."

No more scoops

Warholm attributes a lot of his improvement to taking his diet more seriously, which has meant saying farewell to his beloved ice cream.

"I have a sweet tooth, and I actually just want to eat ice cream all the time, but I can't do that," Warholm told The Insider.

"I think it's important to enjoy yourself sometimes too."

As a result, his daily diet is rather more spartan.

"Nutrition is very important for health, but also for building what you want to build through training and recovery," he said.

"Now I'm really focussed on getting the right things."

Also See: Tokyo Olympics 2020: Norway's Karsten Warholm crushes world record in memorable 400m hurdles dash

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Temperatures soar in marathon site as heatwave hits Hokkaido region

Tokyo Olympics 2020: Young track and field guns ready to shine in post-Usain Bolt Olympic era

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