TOKYO (Reuters) – A world record was expected, but Norway’s Carsten Warholm had to wreck it to keep Ray Benjamin of the United States in trouble and claim gold on Tuesday in the 400m hurdles, in what will be one of the great Olympic races of all time.
Last month, Warholm broke 29-year-old Kevin Young’s world record with a time of 46.70 seconds, but he himself broke his own by scoring 45.94 points. Benjamin pushed him to the finish to take silver at 46.17, half a second short of the old record.
Brazilian Alison dos Santos, 21, took bronze with a record of 46.72, also setting the previous Young mark where six of the top seven players set national or continental records.
“Do you know the cliched phrase you haven’t grasped yet? I don’t think I have it, but I feel ecstatic. I can’t believe the time, so often they ask me about the perfect race, I said it doesn’t exist, but that is closer than I was,” Warholm said. ever upon it.”
“When I entered the race I said to myself, Remember all the work I did. It was the only thing missing from my collection (the medal), I can’t describe how important this is to me. It’s what I do in the morning at night, it’s huge.”
New boots with carbon technology may contribute to the scorching streak of times seen in Tokyo, but even if they ran barefoot, the two great competitors would have made a show to remember.
Two-time world champion Warholm runs every race as if he’s trying to break a world record, and last month in Oslo he finally broke the Young mark he set at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, seemingly lifting a weight from above.
With Benjamin clocking a time of 46.83 in the USA events, the record was expected to be broken in Tokyo, but no one could have predicted the huge races both athletes achieved.
In perfect condition, the two 25-year-olds jumped in and entered the extension of the house side by side, with Warholm taking the lead.
Seeing the astounding weather, Warholm looked shocked, tore off his shirt and slapped his chest in celebration before kneeling.
Benjamin would have been equally surprised at his timing, and even more so for being good enough for second place.
“The two broke the old world record, it’s no wonder his shirt was ripped – he’s Superman in that event,” said BBC commentator and former 1500m world champion Steve Cram.
“I can’t believe what we just saw, two men running times we can only dream of. Dos Santos was almost within the old world record and was miles away.”
Colin Jackson, former world champion in the 110m hurdles, noted: “When it comes to world records, this is right there with Usain Bolt in 9.58sec in the 100m, next to Flo Joe who is 10.49sec in the 100m.
“This is one of the most remarkable records and I am sure the world record will beat me,” he said.
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