USATF Men’s 400H — Benjamin Sets Table For WC

After “a rough two months” of setbacks, Rai Benjamin surprised with a meet record. (KEVIN MORRIS)

THE REMATCH IS ON. Two years after that magical Olympic night when Rai Benjamin obliterated Karsten Warholm’s World Record — only to take silver because Warholm obliterated it even more — the American and Norwegian appear headed for another global clash.

(Reigning world champ Alison dos Santos is recovering from a knee injury, has not raced in ’23 and looks iffy to be part of that fight.)

Warholm laid down his marker with a WL 46.52 at Bislett last month and followed earlier in the day this championships began with a 46.76 win by nearly 6 seconds at the Norwegian nationals. In Eugene, Benjamin responded in 46.62 — a meet record, the No. 5 world clocking ever, and second-fastest U.S. time, behind only his 46.17 in that Tokyo race. This marks Benjamin’s fourth consecutive national title.

No one else was even close. The rest of the U.S. team was filled out by CJ Allen (48.18) and Oregon22 bronze medalist Trevor Bassitt (48.26). Khallifah Rosser, a World finalist last year, will not return to the team — he placed 4th in 48.77.

Benjamin, who led the heats at 49.05 two days earlier, already had a solid lead by hurdle 1 in the final — only Allen had his foot over the barrier at the same time. By hurdle 2, Allen couldn’t even say that.

Allen actually kept it interesting by hanging on to Benjamin for as long as he could. He was still within striking distance as late as the eighth hurdle, a couple of steps behind but ready to take advantage of a Benjamin mistake.

But the favorite was flawless. Once he came off the curve, it was clear something big was about to happen. Benjamin gained about half a second over Allen down the home straight, stretching his margin to 10m.

Benjamin now owns 7 of the 10 fastest U.S. clockings all-time. Not bad for a guy with no individual global gold medals.

“I think it sets me up very well,” Benjamin said, looking ahead to the big dance. “All year I’ve been hearing all the noise in the background, but stayed true.”

Benjamin, 25, got injured after his season opener at Mt SAC, followed by a second bout with COVID. Even worse, a friend passed away.

”It’s been a rough 2 months, so I’m happy it all came together today,” said Benjamin, who later tweeted that he did not run at all during those 8 weeks.

Asked about the strong American long hurdles squad he will lead to Budapest, he tipped his hat (er… headband) to his teammates.

“They don’t need me to lead them,” he said. “Trevor’s been there, CJ’s been running hard all year, running well, so I’m super happy for them.”


FINAL (July 09)

1. Rai Benjamin (Nike) 46.62 (AL) (x, 5 W; x, 2 A);

2. CJ Allen (Asics) 48.18;

3. Trevor Bassitt (unat) 48.26;

4. Khallifah Rosser (Nike) 48.77;

5. Taylor McLaughlin (unat) 49.14;

6. James Smith (TxAM) 49.56;

7. David Kendziera (unat) 49.74;

8. Quivell Jordan-Bacot (TS) 50.73.

(lanes: 1. McLaughlin; 2. Jordan-Bacot; 3. Smith; 4. Allen; 5. Benjamin; 6. Bassitt; 7. Rosser; 8. Kendziera)

(RT: 0.177 Bassitt; 0.185 Jordan-Bacot; 0.202 Benjamin; 0.204 Allen; 0.220 Smith & Kendziera; 0.231 McLaughlin; 0.240 Rosser)

HEATS (July 07)

I–1. Allen 49.50; 2. Rosser 49.67; 3. Kendziera 49.72; 4. Bryce McCray (TxAM) 50.44; 5. Julien Gillum (Ia) 50.53; 6. Sam Hartman (Edin) 51.49; 7. David-Marquis Patrick (unat) 52.83; 8. Jonathan Birchman (Wa) 53.38.

II–1. Benjamin 49.05; 2. Smith 49.75; 3. McLaughlin 50.22; 4. Drake Schneider (unat) 50.33; 5. Caleb Cavanaugh (Ga) 50.59; 6. Jared McAlvey (WaSt) 52.03; 7. Joel Smith (BethMn) 52.11; 8. Isaiah Chapman (StA) 53.75.

III–1. Jordan-Bacot 49.98; 2. Bassitt 50.21; 3. Amere Lattin (unat) 50.33; 4. Cass Elliott (Wa) 50.40; 5. James Rivera (FlSt) 50.50; 6. Malcum Tatum (CParkTC) 51.49; 7. Chris Robinson (Al) 53.82 (fell); 8. Eysias Banks (unat) 56.21.

SEMIS (July 08)

I–1. Allen 48.51; 2. Bassitt 48.82; 3. Kendziera 49.14; 4. Jordan-Bacot 49.20; 5. Elliott 49.44; 6. Cavanaugh 49.85; 7. Schneider 50.09; 8. Gillum 50.74.

II–1. Benjamin 48.26; 2. Rosser 49.12; 3. Smith 49.26; 4. McLaughlin 49.30; 5. Lattin 49.94; 6. McCray 49.95; 7. Rivera 51.40; 8. Tatum 51.51.