Warholm regains 400m hurdles world title, Kerr surprises Ingebrigtsen

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Karsten Warholm regained his 400m hurdles world title in impressive fashion, clocking 46.89 to leave all his rivals training in his wake on Wednesday night.

Such has been Warholm’s superb level of excellence this season, it was only his fourth fastest time of the summer but his nearest rival on the global stage was still almost half-a-second in arrears of the Norwegian.

By contrast to his usual eyeballs-out-from-the-front style, this was arguably a more measured and mature performance, and Warholm wasn't actually in front until the sixth hurdle.

He started to  visibly grimace between the ninth and tenth hurdle but behind him the rest of the field were suffering even more and off the last barrier he turned a half-metre advantage into a win by two metres as he crossed the line.

"I feel like the gold medal is back where it belongs. It's an amazing feeling. It was the perfect run for me I was able to keep my form in the first 250 metres and I know that the guys were running their asses off and would be very tired," analysed Warholm.

He added, "It was just left for me to turn on the turbos over the last 100m and the race was mine. They went out super hard but I knew they were going to get it tough in the end. I knew I would have the most left on the home stretch."

The sight of Warholm taking his third world title after wins in 2017 and 2019 will have provided a happy end to the night for the many Norwegian athletics fans in the National Athletics Centre after Jakob Ingebrigtsen was sensationally beaten in the 1500m barely 30 minutes earlier.

Once again, it was a Briton who upset the odds to arrive at the World Athletics Championships 1500m finish line in front of pre-race favourite and European record holder.

Just over a year ago, it was Jake Wightman who stole the gold medal from under Ingebrigtsen’s nose and at Budapest 23 – with the injured Wightman looking on from the sidelines – it was the turn of Josh Kerr to perform the same trick and in almost exactly the same fashion.

Kerr hit the front with almost exactly 200 metres to go, employing almost the same tactic as that of his soon-to-be predecessor, gritted his teeth and hung on as the pair duelled down the home straight.

Kerr crosse the line in 3:29.38, the second fastest time of his life, while a visibly disappointed Ingebrigtsen was second in 3:29.65 as his compatriot Narve Gilje Nordas took a surprise bronze in 3:29.68 – just 0.21 off his best – almost catching a slowing Ingebrigtsen on the line.

"This is just reward for many years of hard work. I'm extremely proud to be on top of the world. I just did what I always do, throw everything I have at it and see if it breaks my way. As I came round the bend I thought I have to give everything I have," said Kerr.

"I didn't worry about what was going on earlier in the race, just made sure I was there with 200m to go. Then in the last 30m I thought I want this so badly, I don't care how much pain I'm in I'm going to do everything to get to the finish line first."

Kacmarek and Murto on the podium

Lying in fifth place coming into the home straight, Poland’s Natalia Kaczmarek came through with her typical strong surge over the final 100 metres to take the 400m silver in 49.57 behind Dominican Republic’s winner Marileidy Paulino who won in 48.76.

For the second night in succession, Ireland just missed out on a medal as Rhasidat Adeleke finished fourth in 50.13.

Finland’s reigning European champion Wilma Murto had a flawless record in the pole vault up to and including 4.80m before failing three times at a national record-equalling 4.85m but it was good enough to earn her a bronze medal.

Slovenia’s Munich 2022 Tina Sutej also cleared 4.80m but had a costly first-time failure at 4.75m and had to settle for fourth place, the same position as at the last World Athletics Championships.

Earlier in the evening session, Latvia’s double European U20 champion audaciously decided to have a solo time trial in the 5000m heats and chase Zoal Budd’s 38-year-old European U20 record of 14:48.07.

At one stage she had a lead of around 130 metres over a world-class field but Caune just came up short, tiring in the final kilometre, but was only overtaken with little more than 100m metres to go and finished in 15:00.48, the fourth fastest European U20 time.

It was an improvement of just over three seconds on her previous best when winning in Jerusalem two weeks ago and the best time by a European U20 runner since 1996.

The Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan was the fastest qualifier for Saturday’s final, winning the semi-final in 14:32.29 less than 24 hours after taking the 1500m bronze medal where shae and Caune will be joined by the Netherlands’ Maureen Koster and Italy’s Nadia Battocletti.

The hammer qualifiers were led by Azerbaijan’s 2016 European Athletics Championships bronze medallist Hanna Skydan who sent her implement out to an astonishing 77.10m with her first effort, an almost two-metre improvement to her six-year-old national record.

Making a world championships final will not be a new experience for Skydan who has done so at the last three editions, but now the hopes of a nation will be riding on her shoulders as no Azerbaijani athlete has ever won a World Athletics Championships medal, even during the Soviet era.

Hughes, Muze-Sirma and Tentoglou impress in qualifiers

Great Britain’s Zharnel Huges started his campaign to add a 200m medal to his collection after winning a 100m bronze on Sunday and was the fastest man in the first round in the longer sprint with 19.99.

Latvia’s Lina Muze-Sirma led the javelin qualifiers with 63.50m, the 2013 European U23 champion finally finding her form with her third and final throw after two sub-60 metres efforts.

Muze-Sirma will be accompanied in Friday’s final by her compatriot Anete Kocina and Austria’s Victoria Hudson but among those that failed to qualify were Norway’s European 2023 leader Sigrid Borge and Serbia’s 2022 European silver medallist and 2023 European U20 champion Adriana Vilagos as well as Croatia’s 2016 Olympic champion Sara Kolak.

Like Muze-Sirma, Two-time European long jump gold medallist and reigning Olympic champion Miltiadis Tentoglou, from Greece, needed all three of his efforts in the qualification round of his specialist event but eventually reached 8.25m finished third overall, leading four European qualifiers for Thursday’s final.

"This qualification was the hardest ever for me and hopefully harder than the final. My first jump was over 8.30m but I had a very small foul, then I was about 30cm behind the board on the second. These were just normal long jumper's mistakes but they could have cost me the final. I couldn't imagine it was possible not to get to the final. In the third round I concentrated on doing an accurate run-up and take-off. World championships gold is the only medal that I do not have yet," said a relieved Tentoglou.

The morning session on Wednesday also saw Swedish superstar Armand Duplantis in action in the pole vault qualifying and he went through flawlessly to Saturday’s final clearing 5.55m, 5.70m and 5.75m without any problems.

In total, Europe will have seven representatives in the 13-man final.

World Athletics Championships Budapest 23 full results and timetable can be found here.

Phil Minshull for European Athletics

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