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Stockholm Diamond League race interrupted by environmental protest

Activists disrupted Stockholm Diamond League 400m hurdles, yet Norway's Karsten Warholm strides on

Karsten Warholm Photo by: Kevin Morris

On Sunday at the Stockholm Diamond League, it was business as usual for Norway’s Karsten Warholm in the men’s 400m hurdles, but this race was a little different than others. As the sprinters approached the final straight, the event was interrupted by environmental activists who obstructed the track with a banner spanning six lanes, leaving the athletes with no choice but to run through it.

According to Reuters, the protesters belonged to A22 Network, a Swedish organization advocating for the restoration of drained wetlands. The protesters dodged security and jumped onto the track from the stands when the athletes were at the 200m mark. They were positioned 10 metres from the finish line, unfolding a banner demanding the government’s immediate action to restore drained wetlands. 

Fortunately, Warholm, assigned to lane eight, remained unaffected by the protest. However, he did not hold back, expressing his disapproval in a post-race interview with Norwegian broadcaster NRK. “It is OK to protest, but this is not the way to do it,” Warholm stated. “It is disrespectful to those who are here to perform. I must honestly admit that I’m pissed off.”

Despite the unexpected turn of events, the 27-year-old Olympic champion still put on a show for the Scandinavian crowd, crossing the finish line in 47.57 seconds. While it was not a record-breaking performance for Warholm, it was significant considering the adverse weather conditions and the disruption.

Karsten Warholm
Warholm in the 400m hurdles. Photo: C/C

Warholm’s consecutive victories in the 400m hurdles on the Diamond League circuit, including his world-leading time of 46.52 seconds at the Oslo Bislett Games in early June, are indicative of his strong form leading up to the 2023 World Athletics Championships, scheduled to take place from Aug. 19 to 27 in Budapest.

The show goes on

The Stockholm Diamond League meet proved challenging for all athletes due to the relentless rain and chilly 15 C temperature. The persistent downpour throughout the night made it difficult for athletes to achieve record-breaking performances on a damp track.

The men’s pole vault event, featuring Swedish hero Mondo Duplantis, faced extensive delays due to safety concerns caused by the weather. However, dedicated fans persevered, waiting patiently for more than two hours to witness the much-anticipated competition. Duplantis, the Olympic and world champion in the discipline, did not disappoint, clearing 6.05 metres on his first attempt, and securing the victory. He then took three tries at the world record of 6.23 metres, narrowly missing it on his final two attempts.

Canadians in Sweden

One of the major storylines heading into the Stockholm Diamond League was how Olympic 200m champion Andre De Grasse would fare in the 100m event. On the day before the meet, De Grasse withdrew, citing a groin injury after the 200m at Lausanne Diamond League. Canada’s Aaron Brown finished fifth in the men’s 100m in 10.27 seconds into a (+1.0 m/s) headwind. Two-time Olympic 100m finalist Akani Simbine of South Africa won the race in 10.03 seconds. 

Aaron Brown
Aaron Brown at the 2021 Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Ore. Photo: Kevin Morris

Despite the harsh conditions, it wasn’t a bad day for all Canadians in Stockholm. Vancouver distance runner Kieran Lumb placed eighth in the men’s 3,000m in a new personal best time of 7:43.81. Since signing a professional contract with On earlier this year, Lumb has had a stellar 2023 season, setting personal bests in the 1,500m and 3,000m.

Stockholm marked the halfway mark of the 2023 Diamond League season. The circuit will now take a two-week hiatus before resuming again in Poland on July 16 and Monaco on July 21. 

You can view the list of results from the Stockholm Diamond League here

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