Warholm Does It Again
Athletics Weekly|October 03, 2019
NORWEGIAN HANDLES THE PRESSURE TO SUCCESSFULLY DEFEND HIS 400m HURDLES WORLD TITLE IN DOHA

400m HURDLES

LEIF OLAV ALNES​ remembers going to meet Karsten Warholm and his family not long after he had been approached to come out of semi-retirement and coach an athlete who was “obviously talented”.

The meeting went well enough that the 62-year-old shelved his plans to spend more time diving and fishing and there have been no regrets about what has been a fateful decision.

He now has a double 400m hurdles world champion on his hands, after all.

Alnes believes his athlete’s greatest talent is not necessarily his very evident physical prowess, but rather “above where you have the collar – in his head”.

Warholm certainly needed mental strength when it came to defending his title in Qatar.

When he first screamed his way into the global athletics consciousness with his gold medal-winning performance in the London rain in 2017, he took everyone by surprise. This time, in Doha, the world was watching and the Norwegian had a sizeable target on his back.

Yet he still found a way to finish first against the rivals who had been threatening to dethrone him. In what was a thrilling final, Warholm produced a typically bold performance to achieve a clear win in 47.42, ahead of American Rai Benjamin’s 47.66 and a bronze medal from Qatari Abderrahman Samba in 48.03 which brought cheers from the home supporters in the Khalifa Stadium.

Warholm, whose outward confidence is a trademark, admitted to feeling the pre-race pressure. In such moments, the approach and philosophy of his coach is significant.

“In my world, sport is not so important,” smiles Alnes. “Not really. We’re not curing cancer or anything like that.

“I understand that there is very little downside to it (sport). If you lose, that’s not dangerous, so we’re never afraid to lose. We’re afraid of not progressing.

“That is the key, with the way we approach things – go hard, hang on and see what happens.

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