AFP/ Tokyo, Japan
Norwegian dips under 46sec to win ahead of Benjamin; Samba runs season’s best for fifth place
Norway’s Karsten Warholm produced a devastating performance to smash his own world record and win the Olympic men’s 400m hurdles gold yesterday, saying he dreamed about the medal “like a maniac”.
Touted as one of the standout events of the 10-day track and field programme at the Olympic Stadium, the cream of a fine hurdling crop did not fail to deliver in a thrilling race despite stifling midday heat and humidity in Tokyo.
Warholm clocked a remarkable 45.94 seconds, pulverising his previous world best of 46.70sec — only four runners in history have clocked sub-47sec times, let alone sub-46.
American arch-rival Rai Benjamin won silver in 46.17sec, with Brazil’s Alison dos Santos claiming bronze in 46.72, both regional records that also smashed their previous personal bests.
Warholm described his gold medal as defining everything he does.
“I dream about it like a maniac,” he said. “I sleep all night on it. I spend all my time thinking about this, so just getting this last medal into my collection, it’s complete.”
Warholm added: “I didn’t touch one hurdle. I was even able to find another gear coming home, so ‘wow’. It’s just so big. It’s almost like history here.
“The Olympic gold medal is what everybody talks about. I knew this race was going to be the toughest of my life, but I was ready.”
The Norwegian two-time world champion dug deep and found just enough energy for an extra spurt in the final 40m to surge through the line ahead of Benjamin.
Eyes bulging at the world record time flashed up on the big screen, Warholm roared and spontaneously ripped open his shirt.
There were national records for British Virgin Islands’ Kyron McMaster in fourth, Turkey’s 2017 world silver medallist Yasmani Copello in sixth and Estonian Rasmus Magi in seventh.
Qatar’s 2019 world bronze medallist Abderrahman Samba, one of the four runners to have dipped under 47 seconds in his career, was fifth in a season’s best of 47.12.
The result caps a remarkable renaissance for the event, both for men and women.
There were similar upheavals in the women’s 400m hurdles when American Sydney McLaughlin became the first woman to dip below the 52-second mark.
McLaughlin clocked 51.90sec to also win the US trials after a superb tactical race against reigning Olympic and world champion Dalilah Mohamed.
The women’s final, featuring McLauglin and Mohamed, is set up nicely for today.
Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba (right) congratulates Warholm on his win. (AFP)
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