“I Was Very Pleased”- 400m Hurdles Legend Lauds Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin for Performance at Tokyo Olympics 2020

Published 08/16/2021, 6:47 AM EDT
Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s 400m Hurdles – Final – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 3, 2021. Karsten Warholm of Norway and Rai Benjamin of the United States in action. REUTERS/Andrew Boyers


The Tokyo Olympics this year saw some of the fiercest competition than ever before. The absence of star names such as Usain Bolt and Michael Phelps left the field open for new names to claim the throne. With shared gold medals in the high jump event, to the skateboarding debut, the Tokyo Games had memorable moments. 

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This time, more than the 100m or 200m, the 400m hurdles events had a lot of hype built around them. In the men’s race, Norway’s Karsten Warholm and USA’s Rai Benjamin were set to compete in what was expected to be a thrilling contest. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s 400m Hurdles – Final – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 3, 2021. Karsten Warholm of Norway in action on his way to winning gold alongside silver medallist Rai Benjamin of the United States and bronze medallist Alison Dos Santos of Brazil REUTERS/Phil Noble

Sydney McLaughlin of USA was the favorite to headline the women’s 400m hurdles race alongside Dalilah Muhammad, and things were really heating up towards the finals. 

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Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin had never competed against each other before. A month before the Olympics, Warholm had broken Kevin Young’s World record in the 400m hurdles which had stood for decades. Rai Benjamin missed out on that record by milliseconds during the trials. 

Athletics – Diamond League – Monaco – Stade Louis II, Monaco – July 9, 2021 Norway’s Karsten Warholm wins the men’s 400m hurdles REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

Edwin Moses is pleased to see the 400m hurdles race back on top

These two titans tore the track in Tokyo, racing neck to neck until Warholm powered through to win the race. At the finish line, 7 out of the 8 participants had broken old records to set new ones. 

“I was very pleased to see the 400 meters hurdles really be the marquee event of the Olympic Games, the men’s and the women’s,” two-time Olympic gold medallist Edwin Moses told Stats Perform. “When I was running, it was a marquee event.”

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s 400m Hurdles – Final – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 3, 2021. Karsten Warholm of Norway crosses the finish line to win gold ahead of silver medallist, Rai Benjamin of the United States REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Karsten Warholm broke his own world record to set a new one at 45.94 seconds. Rai Benjamin followed with 46.17 seconds, a timing which also broke Warholm’s previous record and would have won him the race or a normal day. 

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Moses, who won two gold medals in the same event, was proud to see the 400m hurdles back at the pinnacle of the Olympics. The race in Tokyo is widely regarded as one of the best of all time. 

Tokyo 2020 Olympics – Athletics – Men’s 400m Hurdles – Final – Olympic Stadium, Tokyo, Japan – August 3, 2021. Karsten Warholm of Norway reacts after crossing the line to win gold REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson SEARCH “OLYMPICS DAY 12” FOR TOKYO 2020 OLYMPICS EDITOR’S CHOICE, SEARCH “REUTERS OLYMPICS TOPIX” FOR ALL EDITOR’S CHOICE PICTURES.TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.

“There was a lot of focus on the 100 meters with Ben Johnson and Carl Lewis back then, but finally the 400 meters hurdles is at the peak of its history,” Moses added. “I just think you have to have about 15 good stars, well-known stars that hopefully become household names.”(h/t Barbados Today)

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Warholm and Benjamin will undoubtedly continue their professional rivalry and history has only witnessed the first of many encounters between them. With the world records now being humbled, who’s to say they won’t do it again? 

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Luke Dias

1547 articles

Luke Dias is a senior WWE and AEW author at EssentiallySports, having published more than 1000 articles on professional wrestling. Having completed courses in Advanced Writing from the University of California and Media and Ethics from the University of Amsterdam, Luke is currently pursuing an undergraduate degree in Journalism from Xavier’s College. His tremendous knowledge of WWE history enables him to make past connections, adding depth to the articles.

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