TOKYO – America’s Rai Benjamin and Norway’s Karsten Warholm have spent the last few years circling each other as they contested for the title of the world’s best 400-meter hurdler.
Under the oppressive midday sun at the Olympic Stadium on Tuesday, Warholm erased his own world record to win his first Olympic gold, edging out Benjamin, who finished second.
Warholm finished in 45.94 seconds. Benjamin also fell below the existing world record of 46.17. Alison dos Santos of Brazil was third.
Heading into this summer’s Games, Warholm and Benjamin each seemed determined to assert themselves as the best in the world. At the US Olympic Trials in June, Benjamin came desperately close to breaking the event’s long-standing world record, 0.05 seconds off the mark Kevin Young set in winning Olympic gold for the United States in 1992. In fact, Benjamin’s time was the second fastest in history.
A week later, Warholm finally did it: he ran 46.70 seconds in front of an adoring crowd at Oslo’s Bislett Stadium to break Young’s record and establish himself as the favorite – by the smallest of margins. – in Tokyo.
Warholm, 25, and Benjamin, 24, offered a preview when they found themselves in the same semi-final on Sunday. The pair crossed the finish line less than a tenth of a second ahead of Benjamin, while retaining energy for Tuesday’s final.
But their heat was tantalizing nonetheless – their first confrontation since 2019, when Warholm edged out Benjamin to defend his world championship.
Benjamin and Warholm are just two of the athletes who have teamed up to make the 400-meter hurdles one of the Games’ flagship disciplines – and a must-watch TV for those watching from home.
Last week, Warholm was asked if he thinks it would take another world record to win the gold medal.
“Maybe someone else will,” he said. “I did my job.
He did his job again on Tuesday, breaking his own world record in an empty Olympic stadium.