TOKYO (AP) – When a fast-paced Norwegian Hartler Carsten Warholm led the way to the starting line at the Olympic Stadium one afternoon, he and his seven opponents had every reason to expect something special.
It became more than that.
This gathering of the world’s top 400-meter hurdlers created a gold medal for Warholm on Tuesday, a world record, a masterpiece and a piece of history. This may have been one of the best races ever held.
After breaking his own world record in 45.94 seconds, Warhome said, “I never imagined it would be possible.”
In determining where the race stands in Olympic history, there is a lot to consider:
– Roy Benjamin, who finished behind Warhome, ran faster than half a second more than any other obstacle in history: 46.17. When someone told him he was going to run fast and take second place, Benjamin said, “I’ll hit you and tell you to leave my room.”
Third-placed Brazilian Alison Dos Santos finished in 46.72, which would have been a world record five weeks ago.
Seventh in the eight-man field, Estonia’s Rasmus Maggie was rarely in the frame of photos taken from behind the finish line. But he is also one of six world, continental or national record holders.
“It’s a lot of processing,” Benjamin said.
Warhome’s pull-out in front of an empty stadium – one day, thousands can boast of being there — broke his monthly world record of .76 seconds.
In comparison, in 400 flats, the record took 48 years for a comparable decrease -. 85 seconds between 1968 (Butch Reynolds) and 2016 (Wade von Niekerk).
Van Niekerk’s world record in the 400 is 43.03. This is only 2.91 times faster than having 10 obstacles to measure Warhome.
Hard to believe, athletes watch what happens in front of them.
“After the second hurdle. I was like s—- if you follow them, it’s suicidal,” said Kieron McMaster, who finished fourth, having won 47.08 of its last 47 Olympics.
Most recently, as of June 30, 2021, the 400-meter hurdles record was 46.78. It was set by American Kevin Young at the 1992 Barcelona Games.
On July 1, Warhome reduced it to 46.7, which was a sign of Benjamin’s shameful restructuring or things to come.
A week before that, at the U.S. Olympic Trials, Benjamin became the fourth man to score 46.83 with 47. After the run, he announced that he felt a “low 46” somewhere in “Tokyo”.
That back and forth set the stage for Tuesday, the clashes between rivals that brought the event to a climax after the 1980s. In a decade of dominance, Edwin Moses won 107 straight finals, winning two Olympic golds and breaking the world record four times.
A rival who is not with Moses, he explained earlier this week, That could have kept Young from going below 47.02, which was almost nine years ago.
Warhome and Benjamin rivals. In pre-race introductions, they both punched each other in the chest like boxers, and Warhom slapped them in the face a few times.
They went to their respective lanes, set up their starting blocks, dug in the heels, and set off.
No one is going to catch them. In particular, no one is going to catch Warhome.
Leaving Lane 6, he caught the guys who started in front of him after three obstacles and was clearly in the lead at half-time.
With the distance between obstacles covering 13 powerful steps at once, Warholm never came close to advancing. In the eighth hurdle, Benjamin was a body length behind and seemed to close. But on Homestreet, Warhome was dragged out. He fastened through the finish with hands-on-flailing.
When his time on the scoreboard flashed, he tore his jersey. “Pure emotions will emerge.” The scene is reminiscent of the time he announced himself on the world stage with the win of the 2017 World Championships in London.
However, the moment was set again in 2018, when Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba became the second man to last 47 seconds, a hurdle that Warhome had yet to reach.
“I decided I didn’t want to lose,” Warhome said. “So I went back and I trained very hard.”
Samba was also in this final. He finished fifth at 47.12 – a season better for him, but he was two hurdles in not getting a national record.
Not only did Warhome break the world record, he went under a 46-second hurdle and no one thought seriously.
“Sometimes in training, my coaches keep telling me that this is possible,” Warholm said. “But it’s hard to imagine because this is a big hurdle.”
One debate that revolves around track circles is how much credit is available to the new shoe technology. The combination of foam and carbon plates gave the runners much improvement and there may have been a sudden drop in records.
“Of course, technology will always be there,” Warholm said. “But I really want to reduce it to a level where the results are comparable.”
Anyway, someone has to run in those shoes, and these men are the best at putting on spikes.
Did they offer the best bet? Did they create a moment that would bring Billy Mills (1964), or Sepp Go and Steve Ovet (’80), or Flo Joe (’88) or Michael Johnson (’96), or Usain Bolt (one) to the position? A bet)?
As the protesters mingled with the media and the belly of the stadium was still ringing, consensus began to form.
“I don’t think any race really compares to what we did,” Benjamin said.
Warhome did not argue.
“I always said there was no right race,” Warholm said. “But I think I’ve come to a perfect race.”
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