FEW EVENTS in Doha had attracted as much premeet hype as this, billed as a clash among 3 giants in the long hurdles event: defending champion Karsten Warholm, the world leader and No. 2 in history at 46.92, undefeated on the year; U.S. champion Rai Benjamin, No. =3 in history at 46.98; Asian champion Abderrahmane Samba, another 46.98 best, who in the early season had a fast win over Benjamin, before disappearing to nurse a variety of injuries.
While Samba’s fitness was unknown, as he hadn’t raced since mid-May, Benjamin’s appeared to be top-notch, with his last appearance the stunning Zürich race where both he and Warholm ran their best times. Few knew that just a couple of weeks earlier, he had fallen in practice and picked up a painful bone bruise in his heel. The rounds would be an important test for both.
In the heats Samba led all qualifiers at 49.08. The next day, Warholm took his semi in 48.28. Benjamin and Samba, seeded in the same race, jousted to a 48.52–48.72 decision, the American coming out on top. That set the scene for the final 2 days later. Warholm would be in lane 4, Benjamin in 7. Samba in 9 had the support of a loud Qatari cheering section. Born and raised in Saudi Arabia, he had represented Mauritania for a time before switching his allegiance to Qatar in ’15. Two other sub-48 types lined up: Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands in 2, and Yasmani Copello of Turkey in 6. TJ Holmes, the second American, was in 3.
At the blocks, Warholm made himself ready, thumping his chest, slapping his legs and face. When the gun sounded, he charged hard, but unlike in the DL Final, this time Benjamin was out just as fast. The pair were even at hurdle 2, with Kyron McMaster in lane 2 also out quickly. Warholm touched down an eyeblink ahead at 3 and Samba had fallen back. Warholm never faltered and by hurdle 4 had marginally lengthened his advantage as McMaster, too, touched down before Benjamin and stayed just ahead of the American through hurdle 6. The Norwegian’s momentum continued; by 7 he had an entire stride on Benjamin and he held that margin to the finish in 47.42 to successfully defend his crown.
Benjamin managed a 47.66 for silver. Samba, meanwhile, kept up the fight. Over hurdle 10 in 5th with McMaster and Copello still ahead of him, the home country star ran down both for bronze in 48.03, just ahead of McMaster’s 48.10. Holmes ran a well-measured race to catch the fading Copello in the stretch and PR in 48.20.
Said Warholm, “The biggest thing you can be is a champion. With everybody posting very good times I know there are crazy times coming and I will have to work very hard if I want to keep this thing going because these guys are going to be hunting for me. I’m not going to sleep.” While some had expected something under 47—even a World Record—the Norwegian insisted, “To be honest I don’t care about the World Record, it was only about the gold medal tonight. If I won the gold medal in one minute I would still keep it.”
Benjamin admitted, “It’s been a rough two weeks. I fell at practice about three weeks ago and I was unable to walk. I was on crutches. Coming into the championships I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to run. In fact, a few days before the first round I was thinking about scratching out of the entire meet. I came out each day trying to make it through the rounds, trying to survive. Luckily I was able to come out with the silver medal.” Click here to watch Benjamin interview video.
WC MEN’S 400H RESULTS
(September 30) (temperature 81F/27C; humidity 76%)
1. Karsten Warholm (Nor) 47.42;
2. Rai Benjamin (US) 47.66;
3. Abderrahmane Samba (Qat) 48.03;
4. Kyron McMaster (BVI) 48.10;
5. TJ Holmes (US) 48.20 PR;
6. Yasmani Copello (Tur) 48.25;
7. Alison Dos Santos (Bra) 48.28 PR (WJL) (3, 5 WJ);
8. Abdelmalik Lahoulou (Alg) 49.46
(best-ever mark-for-place: 6–7)
Lanes: 2. McMaster; 3. Holmes; 4. Warholm; 5. Dos Santos; 6. Copello; 7. Benjamin; 8. Lahoulou; 9. Samba
Reaction times: 0.164 Warholm; 0.171 McMaster; 0.177 Copello; 0.187 Lahoulou; 0.193 Holmes; 0.198 Samba; 0.205 Benjamin; 0.208 Dos Santos
I–1. Warholm 49.27; 2. Thomas Barr (Ire) 49.41; 3. M.P. Jabir (Ind) 49.62; 4. Kemar Mowatt (Jam) 49.63; 5. Amere Lattin (US) 49.72; 6. Fernando Vega (Mex) 49.95;
7. Mehdi Pirjahan (Irn) 50.46; 8. Artur Langowski (Bra) 51.52.
II–1. McMaster 49.60; 2. Dos Santos 49.66; 3. Chieh Chen (Tai) 49.95; 4. Luke Campbell (Ger) 50.20;
5. Armando Machava Creve (Moz) 50.76; 6. Lindsay Hanekom (SA) 51.71; 7. Ned Azemia (Sey) 52.58;… dq—Bienvenu Sawadogo (Bur).
III–1. Samba 49.08; 2. Takatoshi Abe (Jpn) 49.25; 3. Holmes 49.50; 4. Rilwan Alowonle (Ngr) 50.04;
5. Nick Smidt (Hol) 50.54; 6. Kariem Hussein (Swi) 50.62; 7. Wilfried Happio (Fra) 51.25; 8. Andrea Ercolani Volta (SMa) 52.60 NR.
IV–1. Benjamin 49.62; 2. Mohamed Amin Touati (Tun) 49.76; 3. Patryk Dobek (Pol) 49.89; 4. Vít Müller (CzR) 50.15; 5. Masaki Toyoda (Jpn) 50.34;
6. Sérgio Fernández (Spa) 50.71; 7. Marcio Teles (Bra) 51.02.
V–1. Rasmus Mägi (Est) 49.34; 2. Ludvy Vaillant (Fra) 49.49; 3. Lahoulou 49.54; 4. Chris McAlister (GB) 49.73; 5. Copello 49.75;
6. Ayyasamy Dharun (Ind) 50.55; 7. Constantin Preis (Ger) 50.93; 8. Malique Smith (VI) 59.45.
I–1. Dos Santos 48.35 PR (WJL) (3, 5 WJ);
2. Copello 48.39; 3. McMaster 48.40;
4. Mägi 48.93; 5. Touati 49.14 PR; 6. Lattin 49.20; 7. Mowatt 49.32; 8. Chen 50.00.
II–1. Warholm 48.28; 2. Lahoulou 48.39 NR; 3. Holmes 48.67;
4. Vaillant 49.10; 5. McAlister 49.18 PR; 6. Campbell 50.00; 7. Dobek 50.18; 8. Toyoda 50.30.
III–1. Benjamin 48.52; 2. Samba 48.72;
3. Abe 48.97; 4. Barr 49.02; 5. Jabir 49.71; 6. Vega 49.96; 7. Müller 49.97; 8. Alowonle 52.01.