World record-holder Karsten Warholm is confident of surging past his rivals as he looks to defend his 400 metres hurdles title at the world championships despite tearing his hamstring last month.
The 26-year-old Norwegian had a stranglehold on the event after a blockbuster 2021 in which he twice broke the world record and took Olympic gold in one of the greatest races of all time.
But the injury suffered during the Rabat Diamond League meet in June, his first outing of the season, left him unable to prepare with his usual intensity for the worlds, which begins on Friday in Eugene, Oregon.
“It’s been very challenging because you get this thing and you don’t know how each day will go,” he told reporters at Puma House. “It’s just a personal disaster for me when it happened.”
Although Warholm has not finished a race in 10 months, he has not lost any of his trademark swagger after working to replicate the pressures of competition in his training.
“Of course you want to run some races to get some confidence but on the other hand, confidence is not my problem,” the Olympic champion said.
“It’s going to be challenging in the sense of I don’t know what I can bring to the table.
“But I know for sure that all the training until the injury happened was very, very good.”
He faces a serious challenge from Brazilian Alison dos Santos, who collected bronze in Tokyo and produced the fastest time this year (46.80) at the Stockholm Diamond League meet.
American Rai Benjamin is also hungry for the top of the podium, after settling for silver at the Olympics and in Doha, and will have the benefit of a home crowd to cheer him on.
“The level is very good right now,” said Warholm. “Probably one of the better eras of the event. They are running really fast times now but at the same time I think that I’ve been running some fast times - in the past, at least.”
But if the competition has him rattled, he scarcely showed it on Wednesday. He did not appear to be hampered while walking and was seen playing video games.
“Pretty safe to say that now we’re going in there, we’re going 100%. There is no such thing as going into a championship and feeling just okay,” he said.
The world championships run from July 15-24 in Eugene, Oregon.