Karsten Warholm of Norway (L) crosses the finish line ahead of Alison Dos Santos of Brazil (R) in the Men s 400m Hurdles event during the IAAF Diamond League Herculis athletics meeting at the Louis II Stadium in Monaco, on July 21, 2023. Photo: AFP
In hot, humid conditions on Friday, the Norwegian blasted his way to victory in a stunning 46.51sec, his second fastest time over the distance and the fourth fastest ever run.
The 27-year-old Olympic champion and world record holder suffered a blip at last year's world championships in Eugene, where he rushed back from a hamstring injury and could only finish seventh in the final.
That allowed Brazil's Alison Dos Santos in for gold, but it would be a brave punter to bet against Warholm claiming a third world title of his own come the Budapest champs between August 19-27.
"It was really nice to do this again - that 0.01 sec off the Diamond League record and also the track record, it is really good," said Warholm.
"I had a very good warm-up so I was ready to do what I do and to play hard. Conditions were very good, a little wind and warm.
"So I was just going out hard and my goal is always to fight until the end."
Dos Santos, making his season debut in the hurdles in his own comeback from injury, finished a distant second, while American Rai Benjamin was a late withdrawal.
That trio has pushed the boundaries of one-lap hurdling to new heights since topping the podium at the Tokyo Olympics when Warholm won gold in a world record of 45.94sec.
"Of course it was important (to beat Dos Santos). I want to show that I'm in a good place before the world champs, but I'm not going to play games," said Warholm.
"I'm happy to see him back. I know it's tough to be out with injury, coming to the meeting here when you know he's probably not in his best shape, takes a lot of balls to do that.
"Since I was injured last year, I enjoyed the racing more. Now I know how it is to be sitting on the outside of the race."
Dos Santos added that Monaco had been the "perfect opportunity for me to come back to run".
"I am really grateful to be able to run again," said the 23-year-old Brazilian. "Now I will get ready for Budapest, to be able to win my world champion title again!"
Warholm, certainly, might have something to say about that statement, not least when he describes his ongoing evolution on the track.
"Running a little bit faster every time is a very good place to be, showing myself that my consistent level is better than ever before," he said.
"It also means you get important races in world champs and Olympics and then you have the chance to run even faster.
"There's one month to go, so I'll get back, work and then we'll see.
"I feel stronger so I can compete in more races, be more consistent at the best level. But the world record still is going to be very difficult."
Warholm added that enjoyment -- while winning, of course -- was now key.
"It is very important in this stage of my career. I won everything and I have the record so I have to enjoy it because there is no other reason to do it."
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