TOKYO – Karsten Warholm from Norway broke his own world record in the Olympic 400-meter hurdles on Tuesday and broke the old mark by 0.76 in 45.94 seconds.
One of the most anticipated races on the program more than lived up to the hype.
Runner-up Rai Benjamin from the United States finished the race with 46.17, beating the record of 46.7 set by Warholm just last month.
“Sometimes in practice my coaches keep telling me that this could be possible with the perfect race,” said Warholm of the prospect of 46 seconds. “But it was hard to imagine because it’s a big barrier and you don’t even dream about it.”
Warholm tore his jersey open when he crossed the finish line first. He flashed with the same astonished look when he announced himself on the world stage with his World Cup victory in 2017.
Benjamin – well, what was there to say?
“If you had told me I was going to run and lose 46.1, I would probably have beaten you up and told you to leave my room,” he said. “I’m happy to be part of the story.”
Alison dos Santos of Brazil finished third in 46.72; he was one of the six runners in the field of eight who broke either a world, continent or national record.
Among them Kyron McMaster from the British Virgin Islands, who finished fourth with 47.08 points.
It wasn’t until 1948 for a man to run a flat 400 meters in under 46 seconds, and the world record in the 400 is 43.03. That is only 2.91 faster than Warholm with 10 hurdles in front of him.
“I knew it was possible to have the perfect race in the Olympics,” he said. “But I still can’t believe it. It’s the greatest moment of my life.”
All in all, it was a race that more than lived up to expectations on a hot afternoon in the largely empty Olympic Stadium.
Amazing, but not unexpected.
The hype surrounding this showdown started building in June at the U.S. Olympic Trials when Benjamin was only the fourth man to crack 47 seconds with a run of 46.83, stating that he thought he had a low 46- Worth in itself.
Warholm responded a few weeks later with 46.70, breaking the 29-year-old world record that the American Kevin Young had held since the Olympic Games in Barcelona.
“I made some mistakes on the return stretch that cost me a bit,” said Benjamin, keeping his thumb and forefinger a tiny distance apart. “But he’s a great competitor. He’s running very fast. You just have to get better.”
From lane 6, Warholm flew to the front, and by the middle he was so far ahead of Benjamin that the actual Warholm race seemed to be against the clock.
Warholm took the distance between the hurdles 13 powerful steps at a time and never came close to breaking the step. He raced across the line, rowing his arms, but it didn’t cost him much.
Low-46 had been a long-awaited dream for most of these hurdlers. Now the mark is at the high 45s.
“47 would have been a record or an Olympic record four years ago, three years ago, eight years ago, whatever the case,” said McMaster, fourth-placed. “But 47.08 won’t bring you a medal” today.
And this race could simply have been the sub-card for the women’s fight on Wednesday morning in Tokyo.
Warholms record came 24 hours before Americans Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad were due to compete in the women’s 400 hurdles – a race in which they broke the world record the last three times in which they competed in a major competition.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.