Tokyo, 3 August 2021 (dpa/MIA) – Norway’s Karsten Warholm smashed his own world record to take gold in an iconic men’s 400 metre hurdles at the Tokyo Games on Tuesday while Germany’s Malaika Mihambo snatched victory with her final leap in the long jump.
Warholm, a two-time world champion, stormed home to cross the line in 45.94 seconds.
Breaking the 46-second barrier was the biggest moment of Warholm’s life, he said.
“It defines everything, all the hours I put in, everything that my coach has been working for.”
Warholm was “able to find another gear” on the home stretch of the race, he said.
“It’s just so big. It’s almost like history here. It was the only thing missing from my collection. I had a world championships (gold). I had European championships, I had the world record, the European record.
“The Olympic gold medal is what everybody talks about. I knew this race was going to be the toughest of my life, but I was ready.”
American Rai Benjamin crossed the line second in 46.17, faster than the 46.70 world record that the Norwegian had set just on July 1.
Brazil’s Alison dos Santos claimed bronze in 46.72 in a race which saw six of the top seven set national or continental records.
“This was probably the best race … in Olympic history,” said Benjamin. “I don’t even think Usain Bolt’s 9.5 topped that.
“(It was) 45.9, man; 46.1 and I lost. The nature of the beast.”
Mihambo snatched gold in her final jump of the women’s long jump, saving her best for last to pip 2012 gold medallist American Brittney Reese with a season best jump of 7 metres.
“I feel overwhelmed. It was, I think, the most exciting women’s long jump competition in history,” Mihambo said following the competition.
“It was so exciting to be part of and I am happy I made it at the end. I knew that I could jump farther than 6.95m. I just needed to hit the board.”
Mihambo said she “knew all the time” that she could win.
“I just knew that I had one last attempt to do it and I am so happy to grab the gold.”
Reese, the London Olympic champion, silver medallist from Rio 2016 and four-time world champion, held the lead from the third round with a jump of 6.97m.
However, she couldn’t better Mihambo’s final leap and took another silver on countback.
Nigeria’s Ese Brume also reached 6.97m but took bronze, as her second best effort of 6.67m was inferior to Reese’s 6.81m.
Seven women had a personal best of 7m going into the finals, but only Mihambo was able to reach the mark.
Meanwhile American Allyson Felix is on track to become the most decorated female Olympic track and field athlete.
Felix qualified for the women’s 400m semifinals first in her heat, posting a time of 50.84 seconds.
The 35-year-old is hoping to add to the six golds and three silvers she already holds from four previous Games, having qualified for the 400m and been chosen for the American women’s 4x400m relay team.