Sat, 19 Sep 2020

Karsten Warholm showed no sign of coronavirus-induced rustiness as he swept to a dominant victory in the men's 400m hurdles at the Monaco Diamond League on Friday.

In his first race over the event since he won his second world title in Doha last October, the Norwegian led from gun to tape to clock 47.10 seconds.

The world's fastest time of the year was also a meeting record, but well off his best of 46.92sec, a time bettered only by American Kevin Young's 1992 world record of 46.78sec.

"It's a great start," said Warholm. "I'm happy to be back.

"It's great seeing some audience... competitors at my side."

Warholm said his performance was a "very good season opener".

"There's always space for improvement, but I feel very strong. I had a good finish."

Running in his preferred lane seven, Warholm was quickly away from Frenchman Ludvy Vaillant on his inside and up on German Constatin Preis in the outside lane.

The 24-year-old Norwegian maintained the pressure for a clear win, with just five athletes racing.

Cuban-born Turk Yasmani Copello, the Olympic bronze medallist in Rio who went on to win world silver a year later in London, claimed second in 49.04sec.

Warholm insisted, however, that competing for him was not all about Young's world record.

"There's a reason it's a world record, it's a tough one," he said.

"I feel like I'm at a good level, but I'm not running for the world record, I run to improve myself and hopefully I'll get some more races in."

Warholm had badgered meet organisers in Monaco - where some fans, wearing masks, watched on Friday - to include his favoured 400m hurdles.

Despite his inactivity over the full distance while in Covid-19 lockdown, Warholm had found time to smash the long-standing world record in the rarely-run 300m hurdles in Oslo in June, a feat made all the more impressive by the fact he ran solo.

The Monaco meet has kickstarted the track and field season, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic which also forced the postponement by a year of the Tokyo Olympics.

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