It will undoubtedly go down as one of the greatest races in athletics history.
Karsten Warholm obliterated the 400m hurdles world record with 45.94* to win one of the most highly anticipated showdowns of the Tokyo Olympic Games.
In the highest quality 400m hurdles race in history, USA’s Rai Benjamin took silver in 46.17 – well inside the previous world record of 46.70, set by Warholm in Oslo last month – and Brazil’s Alison dos Santos took bronze in 46.72, inside the old world record that had stood to Kevin Young from 1992 until last month.
Benjamin was drawn in lane five, just inside Warholm in six. Both men – in fact, all finalists – set off at an aggressive pace, but Benjamin and Warholm shared the lead over the first few barriers. Warholm appeared to gain a narrow lead on the final bend, though Benjamin still looked poised to respond.
Warholm’s lead over the final two barriers was still only negligible and the race looked far from over, but he managed to find another gear after clearing the 10th hurdle to pull clear from Benjamin, charging through the finish to stop the clock at an incredible 45.94.
Benjamin finished second in 46.17, smashing Young’s North American record, and Dos Santos came through for bronze in 46.72. Kyron McMaster was fourth (47.08), Abderrahman Samba fifth (47.12) and Yasmani Copello sixth (47.81) as six men finished inside 48 seconds for the first time.
“This is so crazy,” said Warholm. “It’s by far the biggest moment of my life.
“I’ve been training like a f***ing maniac. I struggled to sleep last night because I had this special feeling in my chest. It’s like the feeling I had as a six-year-old on Christmas Eve. It’s a feeling you think you’ll never have again as you get older. But I had it last night.”
“I was so focused on getting that last medal in my collection and now it’s all complete,” added the two-time world champion. “I need to set myself new goals, I don’t think I’m done yet.”
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure