Monday, September 26, 2022
HomeSportsAlison dos Santos upset Karsten Warholm in the 400-meter hurdles.

Alison dos Santos upset Karsten Warholm in the 400-meter hurdles.

Alison dos Santos of Brazil upset Karsten Warholm, the star quarter-mile hurdler from Norway, and Warholm’s chief rival, Rai Benjamin of the United States, throwing a major curveball in the rematch of one of the great races of last year’s Olympics.

Dos Santos had the fastest time of the year coming into the race, and he had it once again coming out of it, running 46.29 seconds to beat out Benjamin by six tenths of a second. The time set a course record. Trevor Bassitt of the U.S. won the bronze medal.

Warholm and Benjamin broke the previous world record a year ago, turning their rematch Tuesday night into a highly anticipated event at this week’s world championships at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.

It almost didn’t happen. Warholm suffered a small hamstring tear last month in his opening race of the season in Morocco. For weeks it was not clear that he would be healthy enough to race at the biennial world championship meet, the biggest competition in the sport outside of the Olympics.

Benjamin had been battling high hamstring tendinitis. He said he was touch and go in recent weeks as well.

Both Warholm and Benjamin blazed through their semifinal heats Sunday night to set up the rematch, a budding rivalry in a sport that desperately needs them to help build its appeal to the broader audiences.

While they are friendly off the track, Benjamin and Warholm represent opposite ends of the track spectrum. Benjamin, who grew up just outside New York City, is sponsored by Nike and hails from a country that has dominated the sport, especially in sprinting, for decades.

Warholm grew up in a small town in western Norway, which has produced just a handful of running champions. He is sponsored by Puma and is known for whacking his chest and letting out a Viking roar just before setting his spikes in the starting blocks at the beginning of each race. In winning the Olympic gold medal, he became the first person to break 46 seconds in the event. It was Norway’s first running medal at the Olympics since 1996.

But Tuesday night belonged to Dos Santos, 22, who was the bronze medalist in Tokyo. It was his first world championship medal.

Warholm appeared in control of the race for the first 300 meters, and he was a step ahead of the Benjamin coming into the final turn. But as the race turned to the homestretch, Warholm appeared to run out of gas, feeling the effects of the two preliminary heats of recent days.

“I heard ‘U.S.A., U.S.A.’ on the back stretch,” Benjamin said. “It was tough to bring it home.”

Dos Santos surged ahead, with Benjamin trying desperately to hang on to the silver medal just a few yards behind.

“I knew Warholm and Benjamin are faster than me and have better times,” dos Santos said. “I just tried to focus on my hurdles, and focus on my race.”

With the victory out of reach, Warholm faded to seventh place.

“I’ve been on this cloud for three or four years with everything going my way,” Warholm said. “Today I went all or nothing and unfortunately it was nothing.”

It was the first time Benjamin had beaten Warholm.

“He’s hurt, I’m hurt,” Benjamin said. “I just take pride in my performance.”

The surprise outcome and the Brazilian champion’s triumph sets up a three-way battle for hurdling supremacy, rather than the two-way duel that looked far more likely after the Olympics.

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