World Champs Men’s 400 Hurdles — Warholm Back To Winning Ways

Karsten Warholm transformed a war through the end of the second turn into a display of unmatched strength in the stretch. (KEVIN MORRIS)

TWO MEN IN PURSUIT of a tough World Record had met at this distance at Doha19, in that meet’s most anticipated event. The record survived, but 2 years later at an empty stadium in Tokyo, they demolished it, producing one of the sport’s greatest footraces.

Now, with both in peak physical condition, a long-awaited rematch loomed in the Budapest spotlight. Karsten Warholm held a 3–1 head-to-head edge on Rai Benjamin, and both had to be wary of Alison dos Santos, 3rd at Tokyo but architect of his own epic time, third-fastest ever, at Oregon22.

The Brazilian, on the mend from knee surgery this February, looked very comfortable in the first round, his 48.12 only his second race over the barriers this season. Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands also ran well, as did confident U.S. No. 2 CJ Allen. Third American Trevor Bassitt, the ’22 bronze medalist, advanced easily.

The semis produced times worthy of any final — except perhaps the next one. McMaster easily took the first in 47.72, the fastest semi ever at this meet, as Allen was edged out of a qualifying spot. A few minutes after, Benjamin and dos Santos followed an early leader and coasted to 47.24 and 47.38 times. Benjamin’s time was the fastest non-final ever.

“This was just about getting through,” said Benjamin. “I don’t care about times. Winning is the objective in the final.”

Warholm ran a ragged but ridiculously casual 47.09 — supplanting the Benjamin mark as fastest non-final ever — in the third semi, leading Jamaican Roshawn Clarke to a 47.34 World U20 Record. Bassitt improved his PR with a qualifying 47.38 in 3rd that made him =No. 8 American ever.

The all-important draw for the final put Benjamin, Warholm, McMaster and dos Santos in lanes 6–9.

McMaster was off quickest, passing the 100m mark in 11.11, ahead of Benjamin, Warholm and Clarke, with dos Santos already 3/10ths in arrears. The American inched ahead on the backstretch, and passed 200 in 21.83 with a slight lead over Warholm and McMaster. Clarke and dos Santos were another 3m back.

Around the second curve, Warholm accelerated, and touched down at hurdle 7 just ahead of Benjamin (33.61 to 33.70 at 300m). Dos Santos, briefly a close 4th, flattened hurdle 8 and then 10, and was out of contention.

Down the straight, Warholm’s strength once again allowed him to move away to a comfortable victory, in a surprisingly casual (for him) 46.89. Benjamin and McMaster were exactly even off the last hurdle, but the latter’s superior finish carried him to the silver medal, the first of any color for a BVI athlete, 47.34–47.56.

The Norwegian, now the only 3-time winner of this event, reflected, “I feel like the gold medal is back where it belongs. It’s an amazing feeling. It was the perfect run for me. I was able to keep my form in the first 250m and I know that the guys were running their asses off and would be very tired. It was just left for me to turn on the turbos over the last 100m and the race was mine.”

The dejected Benjamin said, “This is tough. I felt good coming in, but I just don’t know what happened. I’ll keep showing up, keep being patient. I guess not racing all season finally caught up with me. I have to find a way to stay healthy. I’ll be ready next year.”


FINAL (August 23)

1. Karsten Warholm (Nor) 46.89 (x, =14 W);

2. Kyron McMaster (BVI) 47.34;

3. Rai Benjamin (US) 47.56;

4. Roshawn Clarke (Jam) 48.07 (x, 5 WJ);

5. Alison dos Santos (Bra) 48.10;

6. Trevor Bassitt (US) 48.22;

7. Rasmus Mägi (Est) 48.33;

8. Joshua Abuaku (Ger) 48.53.

(best-ever mark-for-place: 8)

(lanes: 2. Abuaku; 3. Bassitt; 4. Mägi; 5. Clarke; 6. Benjamin; 7. Warholm; 8. McMaster; 9. dos Santos)

(reaction times: 0.151 McMaster, 0.156 Abuaku, 0.161 Mägi, 0.164 Clarke, dos Santos & Bassitt, 0.168 Benjamin, 0.171 Warholm)

HEATS (August 20)

I–1. dos Santos 48.12; 2. Ludvy Vaillant (Fra) 48.27; 3. Julien Bonvin (Swi) 49.19; 4. Zhiyu Xie (Chn) 49.25; 5. Matic Ian Guček (Slo) 49.40; 6. Constantin Preis (Ger) 49.45;… dnf—Abdelmalik Lahoulou (Alg), Assinie Wilson (Jam).

II–1. McMaster 48.47; 2. Mägi 48.58; 3. Bassitt 48.73; 4. Wiseman Mukhobe (Ken) 49.10; 5. Sérgio Fernández (Spa) 49.26; 6. Ismail Nezir (Tur) 49.92; 7. Eric Cray (Phi) 50.27; 8. Takayuki Kishimoto (Jpn) 50.90; 9. Andrea Ercolani Volta (SMa) 52.69.

III–1. Wilfried Happio (Fra) 48.63; 2. Warholm 48.76; 3. Bassem Hemeida (Qat) 49.50; 4. Alessandro Sibilio (Ita) 49.50; 5. Dany Brand (Swi) 49.69; 6. Pablo Andrés Ibáñez (ElS) 50.01; 7. Santhosh Kumar Tamilarasan (Ind) 50.46; 8. Marc Anthony Ibrahim (Leb) 50.62; 9. Malique Smith (VI) 50.86.

IV–1. Abuaku 48.32 PR; 2. CJ Allen (US) 48.36;

3. Clarke 48.39 (x, 9 WJ);

4. Nathaniel Ezekiel (Ngr) 48.47; 5. Julien Watrin (Bel) 48.72; 6. Mario Lambrughi (Ita) 49.05; 7. Vít Müller (CzR) 49.37; 8. Yusaku Kodama (Jpn) 50.18.

V–1. Benjamin 48.35 (fastest-ever first round of 3); 2. Jaheel Hyde (Jam) 48.63; 3. Kazuki Kurokawa (Jpn) 48.71; 4. Gerald Drummond (CRC) 48.73; 5. Yasmani Copello (Tur) 48.92; 6. Emil Nana Kwame Agyekum (Ger) 49.00; 7. Shakeem Smith (Bah) 49.61; 8. Árpád Bánóczy (Hun) 50.31 PR; 9. Jun Jie Calvin Quek (SGP) 50.53.

SEMIS (August 21)

I–1. McMaster 47.72; 2. Mägi 48.30; 3. Allen 48.44; 4. Hyde 48.49; 5. Watrin 48.94; 6. Ezekiel 49.22; 7. Hemeida 49.50;… fs—Lambrughi.

II–1. Benjamin 47.24 (fastest prelim ever); 2. dos Santos 47.38; 3. Vaillant 48.48; 4. Kurokawa 48.58 PR; 5. Agyekum 48.71 PR; 6. Mukhobe 49.40; 7. Xie 49.57; 8. Bonvin 49.75.

III–1. Warholm 47.09 (fastest prelim ever);

2. Clarke 47.34 NR WJR (old WJR 47.85 Sean Burrell [US] ’21 & Clarke ’23);

3. Bassitt 47.38 PR (=8, x A);

4. Abuaku 48.39; 5. Sibilio 48.43; 6. Copello 48.66; 7. Happio 48.83; 8. Drummond 49.31.