TOKYO — Karsten Warholm of Norway obliterated his own world record in the Olympic 400-meter hurdles Tuesday, finishing in 45.94 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, as six of the eight runners broke either a world, continent or national record.
All in all, it was a race that more than lived up to expectations on a steamy afternoon at a mostly empty Olympic Stadium.
Amazing but not unexpected.
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.
Starting in Lane 6, Warholm flew out to the lead, and by the midpoint, he had drawn so far ahead of Benjamin that the real race appeared to be Warholm vs. the clock.
Covering the distance between hurdles 13 powerful steps at a time, Warholm never came close to breaking stride. He sped over the line with arms-a-flailing, but that didn’t cost him much. Low-46 had been a long-imagined dream for most of these hurdlers. Now, the mark is in the high-45s.
And, this race might have simply been the undercard for the women’s battle Wednesday morning in Tokyo.
Warholm’s record came 24 hours before Americans Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad were scheduled to square off in the women’s 400 hurdle s — a race in which they’ve broken the world record the last three times they’ve squared off in a major competition.
Meanwhile, Malaika Mihambo of Germany took the top spot in the women’s long jump with a 7-meter leap on her final attempt and edged U.S. veteran Brittney Reese for the Olympic gold medal.
Mihambo won the world championship title in 2019 and finished just off the podium in fourth place at the 2016 Olympics.
The 34-year-old Reese now has back-to-back Olympic silver medals at the Tokyo Games and from Rio de Janeiro after winning the title at London in 2012.
The four-time world champion had the chance to win with the final jump of the competition but couldn’t improve on her best mark of 6.97 meters.
Ese Brume of Nigeria, who led after the first round and was in top spot again after the fourth, also finished on 6.97-meters and took bronze on a countback.