The sell-out Bislett Games, the fifth in the World Athletics Diamond League series, has attracted a world-class field with the women’s 400m hurdles featuring some six World, Olympic or European medallists.
Mclaughlin and Warholm along with fellow hurdlers Kori Carter, Dalilah Muhammad, Lea Sprunger, Amalie Iuel and Kyron McMaster met the media at the annual Strawberry Party held at City Hall in Oslo earlier today.
American, Sydney Mclaughlin arrives in Norway after making her Diamond League debut in Shanghai finishing second in the 400m. Last year she dominated the American collegiate season breaking her own world under 20 record for the 400m hurdles with 52.75.
Commenting on what will be her first race in Europe, she said, “This first race is all about understanding what the circuit is like and learning to run consistently. This year for me is about adjusting from NCAA to pro racing.
“The US trials are of course really important but at the moment it is all about looking at what I need to work on.”
Dalilah Muhammad, the Olympic champion and silver medallist from London 2017, arrives in Oslo looking to continue a winning streak following victories in both Doha and Rome Diamond League events. She said, “Tomorrow I want to go out to do my absolute best.”
Commenting on the challenge of McLaughlin, she added “I think Sydney has surpassed everything I have done so my advice is simply to keep doing what you’re doing!”
World champion, Kori Carter (USA) will be amongst those ensuring McLaughlin doesn’t have it all her own way. Carter, who was fourth in the Rome Diamond League last week, said, “I am still trying to put things together this season after taking a year off from the hurdles last year. I have done three races this season improving each time but tomorrow we have a very high calibre of athlete in the race so it will be very tough.”
European champion, Lea Sprunger will be hoping to improve on her ninth spot in Rome. The Swiss athlete, who had a successful indoor campaign winning the 400m at the European Indoors in Glasgow in March, commented, “I had some back issues going into Rome very late in my preparation so I hope to run faster tomorrow and provide a bit more of a fight to the other girls. The women’s field this season is so competitive I think we will all push one another.”
Local favourite, Amalie Iuel is in great form having set a personal best of 55.15 last week in Poland. The 25 year old said, “The competition tomorrow is a lot different to my last two races. I ran a personal best here last year and I hope I can do that again because the Bislett Games is so special to all of us in Norway. The atmosphere is very special so I am very excited to get out there. Of course 54 [seconds] is on my mind but if it doesn’t come tomorrow then that’s ok as it is a long season ahead.”
In an absolutely stacked women’s 400m hurdles field world silver medallist, Shamier Little (USA); Olympic silver medallist, Sara Slott Pedersen (DEN) and Olympic bronze medallist, Anna Ryzhykova (UKR) will be all looking to gain Diamond League points.
World and European champion and local hero, Karsten Warholm kicked off his season in style at the Stockholm Diamond League last month taking the maximum eight points.
He will be competing in his fourth Bislett Games and joked with the media, “I have been first, second and sixth so I guess I’ll be third, fourth or fifth tomorrow!
“I was very pleased with my ‘flying start’ in Stockholm and my body has responded well. It will be a great race tomorrow and I am very much looking forward to it.”
Commonwealth Games champion, Kyron McMaster from the British Virgin Islands, will be hoping to challenge Warholm for the Diamond League points. He said, “I am treating tomorrow as my official season debut after I pulled out of Stockholm with a slight injury. Because I do not need to qualify for Doha I can plan my season strategically so the late start is probably a good thing for me.”
On the potentially cold conditions, McMaster said, “It will be very different for me as I train in temperatures of 90 degrees. This will be a challenge but this is why I am here.”
Warholm said, “It is an outdoor sport so we all have to be prepared to race in any conditions. I can lend Kyron some Norwegian wool clothing if he is cold! We do have an indoor warm up track here at Bislett so there will be no need for the warm up in the underground car park as I did in Stockholm.”
Commenting on the absence of Abderrahman Samba (CUB), who has withdrawn through injury, Warholm said “I am always physched up whoever I am racing. There are so many great guys out there now so you have to be prepared to race whoever is in the competition. I just wish Samba well and hope he comes back stronger.”
With the Bislett Games sold out Warholm said, “It is great news that the stadium will be full. The interest in track and field has increased in Norway with children and parents keen to watch.” As for whether people now recognise him in the street, “If I am with the Ingebrigtsens then no-one will know me!” he joked.
Without the absent Samba, current Diamond League leader, Thomas Barr (IRL) and TJ Holmes (USA), who was second in Stockholm to Warholm, are likely to be the main challengers for Warholm and McMaster in tomorrow.
Carol Austin for Bislett Games media team