DOHA (Reuters) - Rai Benjamin will take to the track at the world championships with the raw memory of losing to 400 meters hurdles rival Karsten Warholm last month but won’t let that deter him from unleashing all in his bid to win his first major gold.
The American sprinter and hurdler lost to Warholm, the reigning world champion, at the Diamond League final in the 400m hurdles last month by 0.06 seconds in a race where the Norwegian set a European record.
“I kind of lost awareness and lost sight of where he was in the race,” Benjamin said. “I learned to just trust myself and go out and be relentless and not hold back as much as I would.”
Benjamin said he would have to run under 46.90 seconds to have a chance at beating Warholm and winning the gold medal in Doha, a result that is 0.08 seconds below his personal best.
“These guys are in shape. It’s no joke,” he said. “It’s warm out here, and everyone is going to have to be on their A game.”
Warholm, unbeaten so far this year, said he was less focused on the time he would need to win than on preserving energy to make it through three rounds of runs.
“I’m very used to doing the Diamond League where it’s only one race,” Warholm told Reuters. “You can just empty the tank and go home. But now you need to be smart, you need to save energy.”
The men’s 400m hurdles final takes place on Monday at 2240 local time.
Warholm bolts from the starting blocks until he crosses the finish line, but Benjamin tends to be more cautious in his approach.
“Everyone has their technique. Karsten runs hard the whole race, I’ve been kind of conservative,” the 22-year-old American said.
“There are different ways in which to run the event. There is no golden way.”
After his Diamond League win, Warholm said he thought he would have a psychological edge over Benjamin at the world championships but is wary of the desire for revenge.
“It can be that he really wants to beat me now and that he is even stronger towards that feeling and it makes him even better,” Warholm said. “On the other hand, it can crush his morale. It can strike both ways.”
Additional reporting by Steve Keating, Gene Cherry, Abdel Hadi Rahami, Iain Axon; Editing by Christian Radnedge