In the first-round table, local hero and Olympic and double world champion 400m hurdles champion, Karsten Warholm (KW) was joined by upcoming youngster, American sprinter Erriyon Knighton (EK), Rio Olympic champion at 400m South African Wayde Van Niekerk (WVN) and Femke Bol (FB) the Dutch European champion and 400m hurdle sensation.
On what they put their achievements down to:
EK: For me preparation is key, I like to know what I need to do and then do all I can to get there.
KW: My hunger to win is what gives me the most advantage. I am willing to do the job that it takes to get out there.
WVN: I'm known as reckless on the track, putting my heart and soul into loving what I do. It's important to stay healthy, that's been very challenging for me as I've always wanted to give my best.
On what have you done differently this year?
KW: In the 400m hurdles you can see it clearly as we push the limits; sometimes this means getting injured, but it is a jungle out there: we have found the key to run fast but the key is to be healthy and run as much as I can. I have a great coach which is such a huge asset.
EK: I have got more committed to the weight room this year; I have to push myself there and I think it is paying off.
WVN: I've been working on my patience and managing my races correctly, I'm in a good moment now so I hope to get back to running those aggressive times again.
FB: I think the biggest difference is the 14 steps in training, so one step less between the hurdles. And it is just nice to see that the training actually worked indoors. It is hard and it is a bit different because I am a tall athlete, I have long legs, but you have to learn how to do it and, also with the second leg, how to switch the legs. But I like the challenge. So, the goal for this season is to continue trying the 14 steps rhythm, to be a bit more aggressive at the first 200m and to keep the pace at the last 50m.
On coming back from injury?
KW: It is so crazy because I had many years running with things going my way, so I was super motivated and then when things go wrong, it is super tough. It is really important to remember why we do this. Sometimes you can get carried away with world records, championships, PBs and so on but it is important to enjoy it and remember the fun.
WVN: It was a big learning curve getting back stronger than before after a big injury - it was a constant back and forth.There were days I thought I was done but my heart would never let me give up - I'm a very spiritual person so I allowed myself to lean on my faith in those difficult days. I'm always ready for a physical challenge but I had to dig into vulnerable areas to work on myself mentally in my comeback. Once the performances improve, the head will fix itself.
On competing in the 200/400 double?
EK: I think in the future I may try it again. Last time I did a 400 I didn’t push it as much as I could. I am a bit scared of it, but I would like to do it again.
On becoming legends in the sport?
EK: I don’t think I am close to that yet. I am good for someone so young, but I need to continue to do what I am doing so I can work towards it.
KW: I am maybe legend already, but I don’t think I will have a statue just yet – I need to do a lot more.
On competing in Bislett tomorrow where the weather forecast is good and there will be a sell-out crowd:
EK: My goal is to run a fast 200m. It will be hot so if the weather is on my side I feel it could be very fast.
KW: Bislett is like my home for me, to prepare all winter long there and to be there and run on home soil is very special. I wasn’t able to run last year due to my hamstring injury, but I really missed it. This is one of my highlights every year.
WVN: It's great to be here for the first time and I'm enjoying it again and I appreciate what I have and can do. I want to make sure I utilise the next few years to perform even better. Tomorrow, I hope to improve on my last race, taking it race by race hopefully getting quicker and cause a surprise in the World Champs.
FB: It is such a great stadium, the crowd is very close to the track and with the nice weather, it is going to be super nice and fast.
On your experience with strawberries:
KW: There are good strawberry farms near where I live but the strawberries here are always very special.
EY: I am quite hungry, so I am looking forward to trying them.
WVN: I can spoil my wife and kids tonight on a strawberry date!
FB: I am pretty much used to the Dutch strawberries. But I am looking forward to trying the Oslo ones.
In the second round table, local hero and Olympic and world 1500m champion, Jakob Ingebrigtsen (JI) was joined by Sweden's pole vault world record holder, Mondo Duplantis (MD) and 2019 world 200m champion, Dina Asher-Smith (DAS).
Q: What helps you be the best?
JI: I think I have that gene that I hate to lose. Motivation is key as is the fear of losing, which can be similar to the desire to win. But some things can't be practiced.
DAS: "I have the willingness to do what needs to be done - to get up every day and want to be the best by doing everything required to achieve that with dedication and sacrifice. Women's 100m is on fire again this season and it's such a pleasure to be a part of it, it really spurs me on. I've spent a lot of time this year working on the mental side of things especially coming into championships.
Q: What are you doing differently this year? Social media gossip has been questioning that you may have peaked already.
JI: Training is relatively easy – to practice over and over again – building my running strength and to get the mileage in along with specific work. Year on year, I try and do that better but at the same time we look at whether there is anything that can be done differently. I am not always sure what races I will go fast in, but I hope tomorrow is one of them.
MD: I would say I did not make many changes. I know what makes me good. I know what my strengths and I are just wanting to continue to be good at it. I focus on doing that and keep doing that. It is not easy, but I feel that everything is going the right way – technically. I have good feeling with the poles. It is like a nice dance, not playing with them. So, I just want to keep that feeling, trying to keep the height, not changing too much stuff. I still feel that I have more in a tank, and I can jump something big. I figured out what I need to do to be good and I like to stay on it.
Q: Bislett is such a great, small stadium with spectators giving out great energy.
JI: There is something about Bislett that is special; it is the Bislett roar and volume at the Games which gives the athletes such energy and excitement.
MD: I have all kind of memories of competing here. The energy of this crowd here, the competition at Bislett plus the good weather – it can make it the best meet in Scandinavia or at least the top two (smile)!
Q: Jakob - why in Bislett are you running the 1500m? What about a 5000m?
JI: I have already won the Dream Mile, but I’d like to win the 1500m at my favorite event of the year. I would like to do the 5000m sometime, but I need to win a few 1500m races here first! But I will be running at Bislett for many years to come.
Q: Bislett is sold out, the weather forecast is perfect so what are your goals for tomorrow?
JI: The goal is to win, in a good race and run fast.
MD: We have a very good field starting at the meeting so it will be no jokes - we will all fight to the end who is going to win. I take it seriously and I believe it is going to be a nice evening. The high heights are in me right now. If I can find the right place and right conditions, I think I can jump very high.
DAS: "I'm really excited to be back here - I won one of my first Diamond Leagues when I last came here for my first Bislett Games in 2018 - it's an incredibly special atmosphere here. When you have positive memories of a place, it will always bode well so I hope to have another amazing performance, I'd like to win."
Q: You have been in our marketing campaign for legends of Bislett?
JI: I don’t think we build statues anymore – but maybe to break the world record here then I deserve a statue here (Steiner Hoen, meeting director) has agreed to pay for it if Jakob does break the WR tomorrow.