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Olympic champ Warholm to open outdoor season on home Oslo track

Karsten Warholm will make his long-awaited outdoor debut just 57 days out from the Paris Olympics when he takes to his home track in Oslo on Thursday in the sixth meeting on the 15-meet Diamond League circuit.

The Olympic 400m hurdles gold medallist and world record holder kicked off his season at the World Indoor Championships in Glasgow, pipped to gold in the 400m flat by Belgium’s Alexander Doom.

But since then, the Norwegian has been  training hard in new running shoes he hopes will hand him a faster finish as he prepares his bid to defend his Olympic title from Tokyo where his sensational performance was one of the Games’ highlights.

“I’m feeling good. I think that everything right now has gone according to plan. I couldn’t ask for much more,” Warholm told AFP in an interview last month.

“I hope that we can use our knowledge and experience to make sure that we come to Paris with the best shape possible.”

Following his Oslo outdoors debut, Warholm will compete at the June 7-12 European Athletics Championships in Rome, but was more coy on what came after that ahead of the July 26-August 11 Olympics.

“I’ll have to see. I’ve tried to find like the perfect balance. I don’t like to set the calendar and to fill the calendar very early.

“I like to take the decisions as they come and try to do the smartest things.”

Warholm will be up against Brazilian Alison Dos Santos and Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands at the Bislett Games, a duo guaranteed to bring the best out of the home favourite.

Warholm will be one of six reigning Olympic champions on show in the Norwegian capital. The others are Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson (200m), Italian Marcell Jacobs (100m), Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen (1500m), Ugandan Joshua Cheptegei (5,000m) and Sweden’s Daniel Stahl (discus).

Warholm, Stahl, Jackson, Ingebrigtsen (5,000m), Cheptegei (10,000m), Burkina Faso’s Hugues Fabrice Zango (triple jump) and Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic (400m) all also won gold during last year’s world championships in Budapest.

‘Win both in Paris’

Another star of Norwegian athletics, Ingebrigtsen came second to world champion Josh Kerr of Britain at last weekend’s Eugene Diamond League meet.

But he was pleased with his outing after a slow comeback from an achilles injury and oozed confidence as he eyes double Olympic gold in Paris.

“It’s a very good start, definitely better than I was fearing,” he said after the Eugene race. “I’ve been injured and lost a lot of training, so you never know 100% how it’s going.

“But if one thing is for sure, it’s that if you’re not able to do the work, then you’re losing in fitness. But at the same time, I know that every day from here I’m going to be better.

“I think I’m going to win both in Paris,” he said of his chances over the 1500 and 5,000m in the French capital.

“But if that is to happen, I really need to have a flawless next two months, which I believe that I’m able to do.”

Ingebrigtsen added: “I think we can have a very exciting summer with a lot of good fighting and good competitions. But, of course, I believe I can come out on top.”

The men’s 5,000m promises to be a fast one as Cheptegei lines up against Jacob Kiplimo, Yomif Kejelcha and Hagos Gebhriwet amongst others.

Jacobs will take to the starting blocks for the blue riband 100m up against Jamaica’s 2011 world champion Yohan Blake and American Brandon Hicklin, whose 9.94sec this season is the quickest of the field.

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