Diamond League

A Sold Out Crowd Expected For Ingebrigtsen, Warholm At Oslo Diamond League

A Sold Out Crowd Expected For Ingebrigtsen, Warholm At Oslo Diamond League

The Oslo Diamond League meeting should result in some surprising times as championship contenders begin to show themselves ahead of the Paris Olympics.

May 28, 2024 by Tim O'Hearn
A Sold Out Crowd Expected For Ingebrigtsen, Warholm At Oslo Diamond League

Oslo’s Bislett Stadium sold out incredibly early this year in anticipation of the Diamond League meeting this Thursday. 

Norwegian athletes will feature in almost every event in front of the home crowd.

Highlighting the sections will be defending World Championships medalists Jakob Ingebrigtsen and Narve Nordas in the 1,500m and defending world and Olympic champion Karsten Warholm in the 400mH. 

Warholm will look to open his season in the stadium where he set his first world record in the 400m hurdles. That 46.70 from 2021 is now quite a ways behind his current personal best and world record of 45.94, but he’ll want to start strong here to show he’s in contention with his rivals Alison dos Santos from Brazil and Rai Benjamin of the United States.

The concluding event, meanwhile, will be the 1,500m and it will feature Norway’s 2-3 punch from the World Championships.

Ingebrigtsen will arrive from a transatlantic flight after he finished second in the Bowerman Mile in Eugene on Saturday. Ingebrigtsen’s finishing time was 3:45.60; he has yet to run a 1,500m this season. Nordäs has run 3:33.87 for the distance.

Diamond League events at this meet will include the women’s discus, 400m, 3,000m, 200m, 800m and 400mH. The men’s competition will feature the pole vault, 400m, triple jump, discus, 5,000m, 100m, 400mH and 1500m.

A Top-Draw Race In The 3K

A great field has been assembled around Karoline Bjerkeli Grøvdal, who holds the Norwegian national records in the mile, 5K, and 3K steeplechase. Her 3K personal best of 8:33.47 is elite and she’ll face off against Spain’s Laura Galvan (8:28.05), Australia’s Jess Hull (8:31.18) and another Caroline – Kenya’s Nyaga, who holds a PR of 8:31.98.

The 3K is not contested at the Olympics and performances in this distance do not affect world rank or qualifying for either of the contested events closest in distance, the 1,500m and the 5,000m. 

However, this is a desirable early summer race for mid-distance and distance runners alike and the performances should be fast. Grovdal may make an attempt at the Norwegian record of 8:31.75 held by Grete Waitz. If the race is paced for it, Hull may attempt to improve her own national record of 8:31.81.

An Epic Pole Vault Matchup Is Set

The men’s pole vault field is epic, with the second and (one of the) third-place finishers from last year’s World Championships. Ernest John Obiena and Chris Nilsen will be joined by two other men who have vaulted at least six meters – Sam Kendricks and KC Lightfoot of the United States.

The notable absence is the world and Olympic champion, Sweden’s Mondo Duplantis. He competed on Tuesday at the Continental Tour Ostrava. 

The men’s discus is absolutely stacked, headlined by newly-minted world record holder Mykolas Alekna of Lithuania. Alekna, who finished third at the World Championships in 2023, threw 74.35 meters at the Oklahoma Throws meet in April. 

Alekna is joined by first-placer Daniel Ståhl, silver medalist Christian Čeh and fourth through sixth-place finishers Matthew Denny, Fedrick Dacres and Lukas Weisshaidinger.

Alekna’s world record was thrown in conditions optimized to take advantage of the windiness of the facility in Oklahoma. Another record likely won’t be in the cards in Bislett Stadium, but it will be intriguing to see how Alekna stacks up this time around.

Star Power In The 100m

The men’s 100m comes at a point in the season where many sprinters are looking to make a statement. 

Only three men in this field have broken 10 seconds this season: South Africa’s Akani Simbine (9.90), America’s Brandon Hicklin (9.94) and Great Britain’s Jeremiah Azu (9.97). 

Two big notables are 34-year-old Yohan Blake and Marcell Jacobs.

The World Record-Holder Returns In The 400mH

The men’s 400mH is not a Karsten Warholm time trial. 

Behind the defending champion, it features the second-, fifth-, seventh- and eighth-place finishers from last year’s World Championships. 

Though Warholm won the title last year over second-place finisher Kyron McMaster by a huge margin – 0.45 seconds – in his season opener, there might be some expectation that he is vulnerable.

Behind Warholm, Alison Dos Santos is looking to affirm that his fifth-place finish last year was a fluke. Kyron McMaster is looking to affirm that his second-place finish wasn’t. 

America’s CJ Allen, off to a fine start this season, is charting a path to the U.S. team and perhaps the Olympic final. Warholm, from an outside lane, is the overwhelming favorite. 

A Norwegian 1-2 Punch 

Following his finish in the Bowerman Mile on Saturday in Eugene, Jakob Ingebrigtsen seemed pleased with his fitness, though he was frank about how much he had lost while nursing an injury over the summer.

His 3:45.60 finish in the full mile may temper expectations for this race. 

While ravenous fans might have expected an early season 3:28 here, there’s a chance that a tired Ingebrigtsen hangs back and instead works on a tactical finish.

However, Ingebrigtsen isn’t paired with journeymen here. He’s joined by Nordås, who earned bronze behind him in the 1,500m in Budapest. A win will be anything but easy. 

Some competitors from Eugene will be jetting over: Olli Hoare (9th 3:49.11) Neil Gourley (4th in 3:47.74). 

2019 World Champion Timothy Cheriyuout is in the field. So are two other men who have dipped under 3:30 and about a handful of others who are under 3:31 and are in search of the big one.

In recent years, mid-distance races at the Bislett Games have been constructed as exhibitions for Ingebritsen. Special attention is often paid to the long-shots, the what-ifs and the also-rans. 

Hardcore track fans will find some thrilling plots here. For example, Cheriyuout could re-establish himself as a medal contender without even winning the race. Nordas could beat Ingebrigtsen to cement a complicated rivalry. Australia’s Stewie McSweyvn could get a positive indication that he should focus more on the 1,500m the year. 

There are three brits in the race who are not named Josh Kerr or Jake Wightman and with this one race they could make the case that Great Britain’s Olympic 1,500m team is the world’s hardest mid-distance team to qualify for.

However, assuming runners follow a pace-setter through 3:33 or faster pace, Ingebrigtsen probably drives for the win and will make a lot of people look silly while doing it. He’s shown that he’s not invincible, but he is currently operating at a level that most will never get to.

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