Tokyo Olympics: Norwegian hero in the 400m hurdles Karsten Warholm uses Nike’s ‘bull****’ spike technology
Gold medal winner in the 400m hurdles Karsten Warholm launched a diatribe against Nike’s ‘bull****’ spike technology after winning one of the biggest Olympic races of all time on Tuesday.
Warholm, 25, broke his own world record, but only just fought off American Rai Benjamin’s challenge to finish first with a time of 45.94 seconds.
But while Warholm wore a Puma spike with a carbon plate designed by Mercedes, Benjamin ran in a Nike air-cushioned trainer.
And then Warholm praised his own shoe, as he seemed to be aiming for Nike: “For us, it was important to make a shoe that can give credibility to the results. There has been a collaboration between Puma and Mercedes on building a carbon plate, which is something I like.
“But I don’t see why you should put anything under a sprint shoe. In the medium distances I can understand it because of the damping. If you want cushioning, you can put a mattress there.
“But if you put up a trampoline, I think it’s a bull****, and I think it takes away the credibility of our sport.”
His quotes come as the Tokyo circuit’s designer admitted it makes athletes “one or two percent faster” because of rubber granules that create “air pockets” and a “trampoline effect” as Olympic and world records continue to tumble.
Norwegian Karsten Warholm (wearing Puma shoes, left) defeated American Rai Benjamin (wearing air-cushioned Nike trainers, right) in a thrilling final of the men’s 400m hurdles
Still, the 25-year-old was aiming for Nike’s ‘bull****’ spike technology after winning gold
Warholm poses next to his world record performance in Tokyo Olympic Stadium
Warholm improved his old world record by more than 0.78 seconds in Tuesday’s final, as did his great American rival Rai Benjamin.
Benjamin was also within the previous record at 46.17 seconds, but he just couldn’t catch up to Warholm, who ripped open his vest to celebrate as he crossed the line.
“I am often asked about the perfect race,” said Warholm. “I said it didn’t exist, but this is the closest I’ve ever come to. In the last 20 meters I didn’t feel my legs anymore. I just ran for my life.
“I feel sorry for Benjamin who took the silver at 46.17sec – he would deserve a gold medal too.”
Benjamin was as stunned as anyone by what had happened: “If you had told me I was going to run 46.1 and lose, I would probably beat you up and tell you to get out of my room.
It was squeezing between Warholm and Benjamin until the finish in the final
The designer behind the running track of Tokyo Olympic Stadium makes athletes faster
“I would say this is the best race ever at the Olympics. I don’t think there is anything to compare it to. There’s no denying it, it was insane.’
Now, the designer behind the fast track who witnessed a string of extraordinary times at the Olympics says the surface generates “one or two percent” improvements in performance.
In addition to Warholm’s run, Olympic records were set by Puerto Rican Jasmine Camacho-Quinn in the 100m hurdles and Elaine Thompson-Herah on his way to gold in the 100m.
While the performances have been spectacular, they have raised questions about the technologies in the spikes and running track.
Elaine Thompson-Herah set a new Olympic record of 10.61 in the women’s 100 meters – the second fastest time in history
In terms of the latter, which was provided by Mondo, Kyron McMaster, who finished fourth in the 400m hurdles, described it as “walking on air.”
One of the teams behind the track’s creation, Andrea Vallauri, said: ‘What you see is evolution. Obviously, every time there’s an Olympics, we try to improve the formulation of the material, and Tokyo has been no different.
“We tried to improve by adding an extra compound. The track is very thin – 14 mm. But we added these rubber granules. How to best describe it: In the bottom layer of the track is this hexagonal design that creates these tiny air bubbles.
‘They not only provide shock absorption, but also give back some energy; at the same time a trampoline effect. We have improved this combination and therefore we see that the track has improved the performance.
Puerto Rican Jasmine Camacho-Quinn also set an Olympic record in the 100m hurdles final
“In Rio (in 2016) the track was called WS. This new one is called WSTY, for Tokyo. It is the latest evolution of the track.
“It’s completely within the rules, but it’s also what we were asked to do; two components. To protect the health of the athletes, to prevent trauma, but it should also give them a boost, let me put it this way.
‘We see the improvement in laboratory research. It’s hard to say exactly, but maybe one or two percent advantage.
“It’s all prefabricated, so every track is the same, and so is the run-up for the long jump and triple jump. The production is the same as that of a Formula 1 tyre.’
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