News : The 400 meter hurdles revolution (I): Warholm vs. Benjamin
Norwegian Karsten Warholm (28-2-96) and American Rai Benjamin (27-7-97) should star in the Tokyo Games, one of the stellar clashes on the ring of the National Stadium, in the 400-meter hurdles.
Warholm is undoubtedly one of the great stars of world athletics in recent seasons, an athlete who has been “hitting the stick” of the world record almost in every performance he had and finally this Olympic year, in the Diamond League of the Bislett Games in Oslo, beat it with 46.70.
Benjamin, on the other hand, is an athlete much more unknown to the general public, perhaps in part because 2020 was unpublished and the memory of the general public is often fleeting.
Warholm managed in the capital of his country to surpass the record of the American Kevin Young, which dated from August 6, 1992, in the final of the Barcelona Olympic Games, and that beyond being the first man to drop below 47 seconds in history, he will always be remembered for taking one of the great legends of this sport off the record table: Edwin Moses (47.02 in 1983).
This 2021 season, the Norwegian, who was the U18 World champion in combined events in 2013 (octathlon) and the European U20 runner-up in decathlon and 400 meters in 2015, has also run in 47.08, the third best mark of the year, after 46.83 that Rai Benjamin obtained in Eugene on June 26. Benjamin’s 46.83 is the third best world record ever after Warholm’s current record and Young’s past. But it is that, in addition, the American ran in May at 47.13 and 47.38.
If we go to the record of marks in this demanding test of the return to the track with the hurdles at 0.91 meters (the same height in the 3,000 obstacles), we find that Warholm already had a 46.87 from last year and a 46.92 from 2019 And in addition, the Norwegian ran in 2020 another two times below 47.10 and one more in those just 47.10. In 2019 he also racked up one more victory at 47.12, one hundredth less than the 47:13 that Edwin Moses set as a world record in 1981.
And watch out for Benjamin, an athlete born in Antigua and Barbados and who ran under that nationality until 2016, being an American athlete for all intents and purposes since October 2018. His 2019 was colossal and at the Zurich Miting he ran in 46.98. Already the previous year he had aimed high, winning the National University in the US with 47.02. In 2019 it also ran at 47.16 and 47.23, two other posh brands.
Warholm is the current European and World champion, just ahead of Benjamin who was second in that Qatar final in 2019. Benjamin has two US champion titles behind him, both of which he has contested as an American citizen.
The confrontation of both will begin at a distance, our early morning on Friday, July 30 (3:55 a.m.), with the first round of their qualifying rounds. The semifinals will be on August 1 at 2:05 p.m. and the grand final on Tuesday, August 3 at 5:20 a.m., so it will be time to get up early or stay up late, depending on customs. The Brazilian Alison Dos Santos, who this July has raced at 47:34 and 47:38, could be the stone guest in that stellar confrontation.