Norway’s Karsten Warholm extended his dominance in the men’s 400m hurdles by digging deep to win his third world title on Wednesday.
Olympic champion Warholm clocked 46.89sec for gold in the Hungarian capital, with Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands taking silver in 47.34sec.
American Rai Benjamin claimed bronze in 47.56sec as defending world champion Alison Dos Santos of Brazil hit the third-last hurdle and saw his chances of a podium place evaporate, finishing fifth.
Warholm had won world golds in London in 2017 and Doha in 2019 but after returning prematurely from injury could only finish seventh in Eugene last year.
“I feel like the gold medal is back where it belongs,” he said. “It’s an amazing feeling.
“It was the perfect run for me. I was able to keep my form in the first 250m and I know that the guys were running their asses off and would be very tired.
“It was just left for me to turn on the turbos over the last 100m and the race was mine.”
Warholm said there had been an air of predictability to the race.
“They went out super hard but I knew they were going to get it tough in the end. I knew I would have the most left on the home stretch,” said the 27-year-old, fresh from clocking a Diamond League record in Monaco last month.
Warholm, who set the remarkable world record of 45.94sec in winning Olympic gold in Tokyo two years ago, started in his favoured lane seven, outside Benjamin. McMaster was drawn in lane eight and Dos Santos in nine.
With such heavy-duty traffic around him, Warholm was unable to break clear of the field, as he often does against lesser competitors.
Indeed, at one stage it looked like Benjamin was gaining on Warholm, the pair going over the seventh of the 10 hurdles stride for stride.
Dos Santos rattled that hurdle and the final one to effectively end his medal hopes and then Warholm dug deep.
Face grimacing and every tendon screaming, Warholm produced a massive effort to go a metre clear as the field entered the home strait.
‘Extra special’ gold
In what was arguably one of his ugliest displays of hurdling, the Norwegian clawed his way to the line to ensure a third world gold.
“Every gold medal means a lot to me but this one is a bit extra special because I lost it last year,” he said.
“I had an injury and a tough season. So it’s a good little comeback story. I learned a lot from that too.
“I love racing, I put everything in my life into this and having an injury is tough but it also motivated me to come back and get the gold back again.
“It feels a bit sweeter this year. You have to fight and I have a fighting spirit in these moments. It gets the best out of me. I’m still hungry for more and more.”
As Benjamin began to tire, McMaster came through for a memorable silver.
“I fulfilled a part of my dream tonight,” said McMaster.
“First thing was to get a medal, second step was to take three of the big three (rivals), I got two today so Warholm is still the existing target. But he knows that!”
Benjamin was dumbfounded by his demise.
“Fitness is there, I just do not know what happened in today’s race. I am very satisfied with the first half of the race,” the American said.
“I just cannot put the pieces together in the last half of the race. I just did not have it.”
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