Karsten Warholm of Norway obliterated his own world record in the Olympic 400-meter hurdles Tuesday, finishing in 45.94 seconds to break the old mark by .76.
One of the most anticipated races on the program more than lived up to the hype. Second-place finisher Rai Benjamin of the United States finished in 46.17, also bettering the 46.7 record that Warholm set just last month. Warholm tore open his jersey when he crossed the line first. He flashed the same mouth-gaping look of amazement as when he announced himself on the world stage with his victory at world championships in 2017.
Alison dos Santos of Brazil finished third in 46.72; he was among the six runners in the eight-man field to break either a world, continent or national record. That included Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands, whose run of 47.08 left him in fourth.
It took until 1948 for a man to run a flat 400 meters under 46 seconds, and the world record in the 400 flat is 43.03. That’s only 2.91 faster than what Warholm did with 10 hurdles in front of him.
The hype for this showdown started building at U.S. Olympic trials in June, when Benjamin became only the fourth man to break 47 seconds with a run of 46.83 and pronounced he thought he had a low-46 in him.
Warholm responded a few weeks later by running the 46.70, and breaking the 29-year-old world record held by American Kevin Young since the Barcelona Olympics.
Low-46 had been a long-imagined dream for most of these hurdlers. Now, the mark is in the high-45s.