Karsten Warholm of Norway obliterated his own world record in the Olympic 400-meter hurdles Tuesday, finishing in 45.94 seconds to break the old mark by .76.
One of the most anticipated races on the program more than lived up to the hype.
Second-place finisher Rai Benjamin of the United States finished in 46.17, also bettering the 46.7 record that Warholm set just last month.
“Sometimes in training, my coaches keep telling me this could be possible with the perfect race,” Warholm said of the prospect of breaking 46 seconds. “But it was hard to imagine it because it’s a big barrier, and it’s something you don’t even dream about.
“If you would’ve told me that I was going to run 46.1 and lose, I would probably beat you up and tell you to get out of my room,” he said. “I’m happy to be part of history.”
Alison dos Santos of Brazil finished third in 46.72; he was among the six runners in the eight-man field to break either a world, continent or national record.
That included Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands, whose run of 47.08 left him in fourth.
“I knew it was possible to do the perfect race at the Olympics,” he said. “But I still can’t believe it. It’s the biggest moment of my life.”
All in all, it was a race that more than lived up to expectations on a steamy afternoon at a mostly empty Olympic Stadium.
The hype for this showdown started building at U.S. Olympic trials in June, when Benjamin became only the fourth man to break 47 seconds with a run of 46.83 and pronounced he thought he had a low-46 in him.
Warholm responded a few weeks later by running the 46.70, and breaking the 29-year-old world record held by American Kevin Young since the Barcelona Olympics.
“I made some mistakes on the backstretch that cost me a little,” Benjamin said, as he held his thumb and his index finger a tiny space apart. “But he’s a great competitor. He runs really fast. You just have to get better.”
Warholm’s record came 24 hours before Americans Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad were scheduled to square off in the women’s 400 hurdle s — a race in which they’ve broken the world record the last three times they’ve squared off in a major competition.