It may have been the toughest world-leading time Rai Benjamin has ever run but with a little fortitude the Olympic silver medallist won the men’s 400 meters hurdles at the U.S. championships on Sunday.
COVID and tendonitis had kept the American from practicing over hurdles since May, he said after the victory in 47.04 seconds.
The triumph set up Benjamin for a world championship showdown with Norway’s world record holder Karsten Warholm on the same University of Oregon track in July.
He could also run a round on the American 4x400metres relay.
But it took a major effort on Sunday to get there.
In a strange race, Benjamin shot out early, fell way behind after the tendonitis acted up, then rallied to take the win.
“I literary wasn’t used to the pace so I had to chop a little bit going into two (the second hurdle) and the tendonitis flared up,” he said. “I wasn’t very confident, but I battled down and regrouped.
“My mindset was just to run home.”
He did, winning comfortably over runner-up Trevor Bassitt.