Rai Benjamin, Trevor Bassitt Go 2-3 In 400 Hurdles To Close Out Day 5 At Track Worlds
by Chrös McDougall
(L-R) Trevor Bassitt and Rai Benjamin celebrate after competing in the men's 400-meter hurdle final at the 2022 World Athletics Championships on July 19, 2022 in Eugene, Ore.
Rai Benjamin’s battle with Karsten Warholm proved to be one of the most epic contests at last year’s Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, with the two rivals posting the two fastest men’s 400-meter hurdles times in history as the Norwegian Warholm ultimately charged to the gold medal.
Their rematch Tuesday at the World Athletics Championships in Eugene, Oregon, once again saw Benjamin cross the line second, but this time he was behind Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos, the Tokyo bronze medalist. Fellow American Trevor Bassitt, who ran collegiately at Div. II Ashland University, took third as Warholm struggled to keep up down the stretch.
Warholm got off to the fastest start and maintained a slight lead at the midway point, but the Norwegian, who had battled injuries earlier this season and hadn’t finished an outdoor race in 2022 prior to the prelims this week, faded hard going into the final straight while Dos Santos surged into the lead.
The Brazilian, who is undefeated this season, won in 46.29 seconds, with Benjamin following in a season-best 46.89 and Bassitt in 47.39, a personal best. Fellow American Khallifah Rosser took fifth in 47.88, while Warholm ended in seventh at 48.42 — nearly 2.5 seconds behind his world-record run from Tokyo.
Benjamin, 24, has now won the past three silver medals in the event at the global championships. The native of Mount Vernon, New York, could have an opportunity to collect more hardware Sunday in the men’s 4x400. He was part of the winning U.S. teams at both the 2019 world championships and 2020 Olympics.
Bassitt, who is also 24, dominated the Div. II ranks for Ashland, which is based in his home state of Ohio. He is competing in his first outdoor global championship, though he won a silver medal in the open 400 earlier this year at the world indoor championships.
The two medals give Team USA 18 total so far in Eugene, with six of them being gold. The next best country, Ethiopia, has six total medals, with three golds. Five days of competition remain at Hayward Field in the first track and field world championships to be held on U.S. soil.
Two other Americans made finals on Tuesday.
Olympian Sam Mattis took 11th in men’s discus, throwing 63.19 meters. Kristjan Ceh of Slovenia won with a championship record 71.13 meters.
Joshua Thompson was the lone U.S. man in the men’s 1,500-meter final, finishing 12th in 3:35.57. Great Britain’s Jake Wightman was the surprise winner in 3:29.23.
Earlier in the night Americans continued to thrive in the 200-meter, with both the men’s and women’s events completing their semifinals Tuesday. Noah Lyles (19.62), Erriyon Knighton (19.77) and Kenny Bednarek (19.84) posted the top three times in men’s qualifying. Those three are also known as the defending world champ, the fastest man in the world this year and the reigning Olympic silver medalist.
Fred Kerley, who won the 100-meter world title on Saturday, cramped up and labored down the stretch, failing to qualify for the finals.
With defending Olympic champion Andre de Grasse of Canada having withdrawn due to injury, the Americans have an opportunity to sweep a third event so far in Eugene, after already taking the top three spots in the men’s 100 and men’s shot put.
In the women’s 200 semis, Tamara Clark finished in 21.95 to edge defending world champ Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain by a hundredth of a second to win her heat, while Abby Steiner (22.15) also advanced as the runner-up in her heat to iconic Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (21.82).
Both 200-meter finals are set for Thursday night.
All four Americans easily advanced in the women’s 400-meter hurdles heats, led by defending Olympic champ and world record holder Sydney McLaughlin in 53.95 seconds. Reigning world champ and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Dalilah Muhammad was one spot behind in 54.45, while Britton Wilson (54.54) had the fifth best time and Shamier Little (54.77) was eighth.