The new Olympic 400m hurdles world champion Karsten Warholm has criticised Nike’s super spikes as “bullshit” – saying they act like trampolines and take away from the credibility of track and field.
The Norwegian, who was speaking after winning gold in 45.94sec, a world record and a performance widely recognised as one of the greatest in history, said his great rival Rai Benjamin “ran on air”, adding: “He had those things in his shoes, which I hate.”
While praising Benjamin’s performance in winning a silver medal in 46.17, a time that also broke the previous world record, he said it was wrong that Nike athletes could run in a thick slab of super-responsive Pebax foam in sprint spikes.
“I don’t see why you should put anything beneath a sprinting shoe,” he said. “In the 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 bullshit, and I think it takes credibility away from our sport.”
Warholm was talking after being asked about the string of incredible times, with Benjamin and the Brazilian Alison dos Santos all running faster than Kevin Young’s world record that had stood for 29 years before the Norwegian broke it this summer.
“That track is crazy,” Warholm added. “It’s a great track. It actually gave me London 2017 [world championship] vibes – it’s the place where I got my first gold medal and it’s a very fast track. But it’s not just the track, it was the guys as well, pushing each other on.”
Warholm explained he had worked with the Mercedes Formula One team and Puma to develop his own racing spike, but insisted his was very different to the Nike shoe as it was close enough to be compared to previous spikes down the years.
“Yes, we have the carbon plate,” said Warholm. “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.”
Benjamin, meanwhile, had his own explanation. “It’s a very good track. It’s soft, it has a lot of give, it’s a phenomenal track. People say it’s the track, the shoes, and the conditions were really good.
“But I could wear different shoes and still run fast. No one will do what we just did, I don’t care who you are. Could be Kevin Young, Edwin Moses, respect to those guys, but they cannot run what we just ran just now. It’s a really fast track, it felt good, the conditions were really good.”