TOKYO - A world record had been predicted but Norway’s Karsten Warholm had to utterly destroy it to hold off American Rai Benjamin and take gold on Tuesday in the men’s 400 meters hurdles, in what will go down as one of the all-time great Olympic races.
Last month, Warholm broke Kevin Young’s 29-year world mark with a time of 46.70 seconds but he blew his own record away with an astonishing 45.94 run. Benjamin pushed him all the way to take silver in 46.17, also half a second inside the old record.
Brazilian Alison dos Santos, 21, took bronze in 46.72, also inside Young’s previous best, as six of the first seven finishers set national or continental records.
“You know the cliché that it hasn’t sunk in yet? I don’t think it has, but I feel ecstatic,” Warholm said.
“I can’t believe the time, it’s so fast. A lot of the time I am asked about the perfect race. I said it didn’t exist but this is the closest I’ve ever come.
“I told myself going in to the race, remember all the work you have put in. It was the only thing missing from my (medal) collection. I can’t describe how important this is for me. This is what I do morning until night, it’s huge.”
The new carbon-technology shoes may be contributing to the rash of blazing times being seen in Tokyo but even if they had been running barefoot, the two great rivals would have put on a show to remember.