Nearly twenty years separate them in age but Norway’s Karsten Warholm and Italy’s Fabrizio Donato both sit atop of the European rankings after their recent exploits and will challenge for maximum points when they represent their respective countries at the European Athletics Team Championships.
Warholm looked poised for a promising career as a multi-eventer after winning the world U18 octathlon title in 2013 but the 21-year-old has found his niche over one lap of the track. In his first full season at the event, Warholm finished sixth at the European Championships in Amsterdam in the 400m hurdles last summer before narrowly missing out on a place in the Olympic final in Rio de Janeiro.
Warholm broke the Norwegian 400m hurdles record four times last summer and the youngster looks set to make further inroads on his lifetime best of 48.49 after smashing the national record in the 400m flat in Floro on Saturday (10) afternoon.
Prior to yesterday afternoon, the Norwegian record outdoors stood the other side of the 46 second-mark but Warholm brought it into respectability with a European-leading time of 44.87 - bypassing 45 seconds altogether. Warholm had narrowly eclipsed the 46-second barrier indoors but his time still amounted to a one second improvement on the previous record.
Norway will be looking for immediate promotion back to the European Team Championships Super League in 2019 and Warholm will be one of their country’s bankers - regardless of which event he chooses - at the European Team Championships First League in Vaasa, Finland from 23-25 June.
Seventeen years after finishing second in the European Cup in Gateshead, Fabrizio Donato could be the one to beat in the triple jump at the European Athletics Team Championships Super League in Lille from 23-25 June.
Donato has been to five Olympic Games since his debut showing in Gateshead but the 40-year-old is proving he can still hold his own against the continent’s best in one of the most physically demanding field events on the programme.
Donato has suffered more than his fair share of injuries over the years but the veteran enjoyed a good start to the winter by winning a silver medal at the European Athletics Indoor Championships in Belgrade and he has transferred this form outdoors, opening his season on Friday (9) night with a European-leading mark and world over-40 record 17.32m in Pierre-Benite - his longest jump in five years.
'I never end up being surprised but maybe this is the most beautiful debut of my career. I enjoy it - I do it for myself and I do not set limits. If I have to be honest, today's result does not surprise me too much, because I have been doing great things in training.” he told FIDAL after the competition.
Donato won the European Team Championships in Cheboksary two years ago and his season’s opener ensures he will represent his country again in Lille in two weeks’ time which will be his next competition.