Karsten Warholm of Team Norway has broken his own world record to claim a famous gold medal in the men’s 400-metre hurdles in Tokyo.
The record was widely expected to be broken, but Warholm had to utterly destroy it to hold off American Rai Benjamin to claim gold in 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 in Tokyo on Tuesday with an astonishing 45.94-second run.
“I can’t believe the time, it’s so fast,” said Warholm.
“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.
“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.”
Benjamin pushed him all the way to take silver in 46.17, also half a second inside the old record.
“That was the best race in Olympic history. I don’t even think Usain Bolt’s 9.58 topped that,” Benjamin said afterwards.
“If you had told me I was going to run 46.1 and lose, I’d have probably beat you up”.
Brazilian Alison dos Santos, 21, took bronze in 46.72, also inside Young’s previous best.
The new carbon-technology shoes may be contributing to the rush of blazing times being seen, but even if they had been running barefoot the two great rivals would have put on a show to remember.
Double world champion Warholm runs every race as if he’s trying to break the world record.
The anticipation for Tuesday’s showdown began building at US Olympic trials in June, when Benjamin became only the fourth man to break 47 seconds with a run of 46.83.
Benjamin said at the time that he thought he had a low-46 in him.
On home soil in Oslo, Warholm responded a few weeks later by running 46.70, which broke Young’s world record set at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
In perfect conditions on Tuesday, the two 25-year-olds hurdled beautifully and were side-by-side coming into the final straight, only for Warholm to forge clear.
When he saw the astonishing time, Warholm looked to be in shock. He ripped his vest apart and beat his chest in celebration before sinking to his knees.
Benjamin would have been equally amazed with his time, all the more so for it being only good enough for second place.
“Both of them smashed the old world record. No wonder he rips his shirt apart – he is Superman in this event,” said BBC commentator and former world 1500-metre champion Steve Cram.
“I cannot believe what we’ve just seen. Two men running times you could only dream of. Dos Santos was nearly within the old world record and he was miles back.”
Former 110-metre hurdles world record holder Colin Jackson was equally mesmerised.
“When you talk about world records, this is up there with Usain Bolt’s time of 9.58 seconds in the 100m, up there with Flo Jo’s 10.49 seconds in the 100m,” Jackson said.
“This is one of the most outstanding world records and I’m pretty sure that world record will outlive me.”
One of the most anticipated races on the Olympic athletics program more than lived up to the hype, with six of the eight runners breaking either a world, continent or national record.
Golden opportunities to come
Team Australia was still on the hunt for a day 11 medal on Tuesday afternoon, after a long jump disappointment for Melburnian Brooke Stratton.
Brisbane sailor Jake Lilley also failed to grab a medal in the men’s one person dinghy heavyweight.
But with three more opportunities to add to the nation’s already impressive Tokyo medal haul on Tuesday, there’s plenty to look forward to.
- You can check the Tokyo Games medal tally here.
Aussie duo Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin will sail in the mixed multihull final from 4.30pm (AEST).
Later on Tuesday evening, Tyson Bull will take his horizontal bar final by storm, vying for a gold medal from 7.39pm.
Kicking off at 8.20pm, Kurtis Marschall will compete in the pole vault final, placing the cherry a-top Australia’s day 11 medal events.
- Find an updated Olympic schedule here.
Aussie sailors eye gold medal in 470 class
Australian sailors Mat Belcher and Will Ryan have a gold medal in sight in the men’s 470 class, taking a 22-point lead into race 10.
Belcher and Ryan are tantalisingly close to another Olympic sailing medal, likely gold, with two races remaining in the 470 class in Tokyo.
The Australian duo continued their consistently good form to finish second in race nine on Tuesday, extending their overall lead to 22 points.
If they can keep their lead to 19 points or above in the next race later on Tuesday, they will take an unassailable lead into the medal race on Wednesday.
They lead from Spanish duo Jordi Xammer and Nicolas Rodriguez Garcia-Paz, with Swedes Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom in the bronze medal position.
The pair will be trying to follow the example of Australian teammate Matt Wearn who locked in the gold medal in the Laser class before the final race, just needing to complete the course to seal the triumph.
Another medal will secure 38-year-old Belcher’s status as his country’s must successful Olympic sailor.
Belcher and Ryan clinched silver in Rio while Belcher also claimed gold in the event at the London Games.