AUGUST 3, 2021
- Karsten Warholm smashed his own world record and ripped his shirt open with delight Tuesday.
- The Norwegian athlete won 400 meter hurdles gold in Tokyo, becoming the greatest the event has ever seen.
- One commentator described it as a Usain Bolt moment, such was the race’s magnitude.
A 25-year-old had to smash the world record to win an Olympic gold medal in the “highest quality 400-meter hurdles race in history” Tuesday at the ongoing Tokyo Games in Japan.
Norway’s Karsten Warholm blew away the competition, beating his own record to win the race.
Rai Benjamin of the United States cleared the finish line at 46.17 seconds to win the silver medal, with Alison dos Santos of Brazil placing third to win bronze with a time of 46.72 seconds.
If dos Santos had competed in the 2016 Olympic finals in Rio de Janeiro, and ran the 400-meter hurdles like he did this week, he’d have won gold – beating American athlete Kerron Clement by 1.01 seconds.
The competitiveness at the highest echelon of the event today is more fierce, and higher in quality, than at any other point in Olympic history.
As such, it took a monumental effort Warholm to win, with the Norwegian running the perfect race at the Ariake Sports Park.
Warholm, who was quick off the blocks and gathered speed through the race, posted a finishing time of 45.94 seconds.
As the only athlete in history to complete the event in under 46 seconds, Warholm smashed the world record – which he already held – and ripped his shirt open in delight.
One commentator described it as moment akin to Usain Bolt setting the world record for the 100 meters in 2009.
“When you talk about world records, this is up there with Usain Bolt’s time of 9.58 seconds in the 100-meter [sprint],” two-time world 100-meter hurdles champion Colin Jackson told BBC.
“This is one of the most outstanding world records and I’m pretty sure that world record will outlive me.
“It’s just breathtaking,” Jackson said. “Wow. I am truly in shock.”
Warholm calls his win the ‘perfect race’
Warholm told the BBC his Olympic championship, and new-found status as the greatest 400-meter hurdler in history, is yet to sink in but he feels ecstatic, regardless.
“I can’t believe the time, it’s so fast,” he said.
“A lot of the time I am asked about the perfect race … I said it didn’t exist, but this is the closest I’ve ever come.
“I told myself going into the race, remember all the work you have put in. It was the only thing missing from my [medal] collection.
“I can’t describe how important this is for me. This is what I do morning until night – it’s huge.”