Karsten Warholm of Norway absolutely pulverized his own world record Tuesday in Tokyo by three-quarters of a second, setting an unfathomable mark of 45.94 – one that may never be surpassed – to win Olympic gold in one of the greatest hurdling races in history.
The two-time reigning world champion ripped his singlet at the chest like Superman after crossing the finish line ecstatic, gazing with his jaw dropped at the clock in utter disbelief.
“It’s so crazy and by far the biggest moment of my life,” Warholm said after the race. “I was just thinking to myself that this is the feeling I would get at 6 years old on Christmas Eve. But as an adult you don’t usually get that. Today, I did.
“I train like a f—— maniac … Now I just have to set new goals because I don’t feel like I’m done yet.”
Rai Benjamin won silver in his Olympic debut, clocking 46.17 to break former world record-holder Kevin Young‘s 29-year-old U.S. best from the Barcelona Games and dip more than a half-second below Warholm’s previous all-time mark for No. 2 in history.
“I tried. It just hurt. It is what it is,” the 2019 world silver medalist said. “I just worked so hard all year, this is what matters. You know, I got a medal, but it hurts to lose.
“I’m just going to spend some time with my family after this, but next year I’m coming. Next year and Paris 2024. I’m a dog. I’ve got a lot of fight.”
Brazilian Alison dos Santos capped an incredibly successful year with Olympic bronze in a South America-area record of 46.72.
Warholm and Benjamin’s 1-2 podium finish at the 2019 World Championships kicked off a wild pursuit of Young’s then 46.78 world record set in 1992.
In late June at U.S. Olympic Trials, Benjamin became the first to truly threaten the elusive mark, running 46.83 for the second-fastest time in history, only five-hundredths of a second short.
Then, just five days later in front of a roaring home crowd at Oslo’s Bislett Stadion, Warholm finally took down the nearly three-decade record in an astonishing 46.70.
The Norwegian made his Olympic debut in Rio but did not advance past the semifinals, then turned heads the next year with his 2017 world title, which he successfully defended in 2019.
Benjamin, a native of Mount Vernon, New York, will likely be on the U.S. men’s 4x400m relay team.