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Warholm and Bol retain 400m hurdles titles in championship records in Rome

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Norway’s Karsten Warholm and Femke Bol of the Netherlands retained their European 400m hurdles titles in majestic fashion at the Roma 2024 European Athletics Championships on Wednesday (12)  night, setting respective championship records of 46.98 and 52.49 in back-to-back races.

Warholm, 28, came home for a third consecutive European title after attacking the event in customary fashion, establishing a clear lead in the back straight and maintaining power all the way round the bend.

But his detachment from the rest of the field was compromised by the dogged presence of Italy’s Alessandro Sibilio, whose challenge elevated the decibel level even higher as he took silver in a national record of 47.50.

Warholm’s pace and commitment also helped create a second national record of 47.94 for the bronze medallist, Sweden’s Carl Bengstrom, with Rasmus Magi of Estonia finishing fourth in a season’s best of 48.13.

“Whenever I walk on the track, I want to accomplish my goals,” Warholm said. “But today, Sibilio also had a very good race. I have seen that Italians have a great season thanks to these championships so I knew that I had to fight very hard. 

“I was very sure that he [Sibilio] would be ready for anything and I could not make any mistake today. It was great to compete here and I am glad that Tamberi jumps on the same day. The crowd was going crazy and I am enjoying this atmosphere.”

Sibilio commented: “It was an incredible race. Just thinking about the injuries of the past two years brings tears to my eyes. Really, it's more than a dream and it seems truly impossible.

“In March, I had some more problems and thought I would have to say goodbye to the season. Instead, today, I am here celebrating a silver medal and an Italian record.

“I am sorry for breaking Fabrizio Mori's time: it's thanks to him that I fell in love with athletics. And it's fantastic to have come second behind Warholm, who is simply an idol. I never thought I could run 47.50 this year: All of this is truly incredible.”

For Warholm this victory comes at a critical time in his season as his two strongest challengers for the Olympic title in Paris, Alison dos Santos of Brazil and Rai Benjamin of the United States have posted faster times so far this season.

Benjamin clocked 46.64 in Los Angeles on May 18; and on May 28 the Brazilian upstaged Warholm on his home track in Oslo, recording 46.63 as the home athlete managed 46.70.

Championship record and world lead for Bol in the 400m hurdles

Bol won her race in similar fashion to the Olympic and world champion from Ulsteinvik, floating clear of the opposition round the bend and extending her lead down the finishing straight.

By the time the rest of the field had cleared the last hurdle the hugely adaptable 24-year-old was halfway to the line, and her time bettered the championship record of 52.67 she set in Munich two years ago.

It was also a world lead, surpassing the mark of 52.70 set by her great rival, Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone.

 

Silver went to Louise Maraval of France in a personal best of 54.23, with bronze going to Bol’s teammate and training partner Cathelijn Peeters in 54.37.

Bol’s decision not to contest the 400m flat, which she also won in Munich 2022, has proved fully justified as she focuses on her main ambition this summer.

After earning bronze in the opening night’s 4x400m mixed relay she will now seek second gold in tomorrow’s women’s 4x400m final. “I am really happy about the victory and Peeters’ third place,” Bol said.  “I knew she could achieve a great result, and she did.

“It's never easy, you can never take anything for granted, which is why it's important to stay focused on myself and not think about what's happening around me. Even though on a night like this it becomes much harder. This atmosphere is amazing, it gives me chills.

“And Rome always has a special meaning for me: I love this track and this stadium. I worked hard for these championships and I arrived here in good shape, I believe I can be even better at the Olympics.

“Tomorrow we will try to have a great race in the relay as well: today my teammates did a fantastic job qualifying.”

The final track event of the night, the women’s 200m, saw Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji retain her title in a season’s best of 22.49, holding off the challenge of Britain’s Darryl Neita, who took silver in 22.50, equalling her season’s best.

Two years ago in Munich Kambundji finished ahead of Britain’s defending champion Dina Asher-Smith. Now she has once again withstood a strong British challenge.

Bronze was earned by Helene Parisot of France in a personal best of 22.63, with Norway’s Henriette Jaeger finishing fourth in 22.83.

“I knew that it would be tight,” Kambundji said. “Daryll is in great shape. I was just looking forward to the race, trying to do my best race and it was close. But I am over the moon to defend my title. I am usually calmer before the 200m, maybe because it is longer and I cannot lose too much energy. I was really calm, it gave me confidence. 

“Sometimes I am more in a fighting mode, today I was in a calm mode.”

Mike Rowbottom for European Athletics

 




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