Norway’s Karsten Warholm world-record 400-meter hurdles run at the Tokyo Olympics failed to suffice the track star.
Warholm took issue with the type of shoe United States runner Rai Benjamin was wearing during the Olympics. Benjamin was wearing the Nike Air Zoom Dragonflys. The sneaker comes with a thick slab of Pebax foam. According to the UK Independent, the shoes are thought to add about 1-3 seconds per mile to a runner’s mark.
Warholm slammed the shoes as “bulls—t” and alleged they affect the runner’s credibility, The Guardian reported.
“I don’t see why you should put anything beneath a sprinting shoe,” he said Wednesday. “In middle distance I can understand it because of the cushioning. If you want cushioning, you can put a mattress there. But if you put a trampoline I think it’s bulls—t, and I think it takes credibility away from our sport.”
He narrowly beat Benjamin to claim the gold medal and set the new mark. He crossed the line at 45.94. Brazil’s Alison dos Santos won the bronze medal. Warholm beat his old mark by 0.76 seconds. He had just set the record last month.
It was Warholm’s first Olympics medal. He had won gold medals in the World Championships, European Championships and European Indoor Championships before taking his talents to Tokyo.
He suggested it’s not just the track that is helping runners sprint faster. Benjamin disagreed and credited the track with his impressive time.
“I’ve always said that the perfect race doesn’t exist. But this is the closest I think I’ve come to a perfect race,” Benjamin said.
Warholm did craft his own personal shoe with Puma and the Mercedes Formula One team – but that is totally different, he said.
“Yes, we have the carbon plate. But we have tried to make it as thin as possible. Because that is the way I would like to do it. Of course technology will always be there. But I also want to keep it down to a level where we can compare results because that is important.”
World Athletics president Sebastian Coe was unsure whether the track shoes will really make a major difference. Like Benjamin, Coe credited the track with the quick time and not the shoe.
“I just think we are in a world of innovation. I don’t want to strangle the innovation that shoe companies our manufacturers are bringing to the table,” he said, via The Scotsman. “There is a balance – of course there is a balance. We’ve got a system that evaluates the shoes.
“The principle I’ve always tried to maintain is a level playing field and I think we’re going to get to the point where there isn’t a massive advantage in whatever brand you wear.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.