Grant Holloway, Rai Benjamin dominate males’s hurdles at Olympic trials


EUGENE, Ore. – The world record in the men’s 110-meter hurdles has been in place for almost a decade. The mark at the 400 hurdles is practically inviolable and goes back to 1992.

But on a mild night at the Olympic athletics tests in the USA on Saturday, both records almost fell – and in just 45 minutes.

In a dominant line-up, 110-meter hurdler Grant Holloway and 400-meter hurdler Rai Benjamin each stayed a fraction of a second from immortality at Hayward Field and cruised to victory in their respective finals – and showed why the United States will likely be preferred to overcome the men’s hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics.

Holloway, the 23-year-old product from Florida, was excruciatingly close to breaking Aries Merritt’s world record in its semi-final run, landing a hundredth of a second behind the all-time mark with a time of 12.81 seconds. He won the final with a time of 12.96.

Benjamin, on the other hand, won the final over the 400 meter hurdle with a time of 46.83 by more than a full second. It was just 0.05 seconds from the world record set by Kevin Young nearly five years before 23-year-old Benjamin was born.

“I looked at it and thought, ‘Damn it, man. Zero five sharp,'” Benjamin said with a smile. “It hurts a little to know it was right there and I couldn’t grasp it. But it’s just more fuel for the fire, man.

For Holloway, flirting with the record was neither surprising nor particularly emotional. He said after his preliminary round he felt he could achieve something special. It all came down to the execution.

“I wasn’t pushing for the record,” said Holloway. “The main goal was just to line up and let everyone know that I was here to win. I told everyone in my first interview, I didn’t come to this party to sit on the wall. I am came to this party. ” to dance.”

After his race, Holloway – the reigning world champion of his event – ran into the stands to hug his trainer Mike Holloway. The two are not related, but the older Holloway has been training the hurdler since college in Florida.

Grant Holloway said they had a heated exchange on Friday, but he can’t imagine anyone but his coach.

“The analogy I’m using is that we’re both two big apes in the jungle and we both want to hit each other in the chest,” said the hurdler. “We both want to be heard. We are both Holloways. At the end of the day we are both (expletives) for each other. But it’s all love.”

With Holloway and Benjamin in the men’s hurdles and the likely combination of Keni Harrison, Sydney McLaughlin and Dalilah Muhammad in the women, it’s entirely possible that the US could jump the hurdles out of Tokyo for gold medals.

You could also break some world records along the way.

“I think there’s more in the tank,” said Benjamin. “There’s a lot more to it.”

Sisson cruises at 10,000 meters

Searing temperatures caused USA Track & Field to reschedule the women’s 10,000 meter race to Saturday morning. But the heat couldn’t stop Emily Sisson.

Sixteen months after dropping out of the Olympic marathon tests, Sisson pulled away from a crowded field and won the 10,000 meters in a full 13 seconds in a new meet record of 31: 03.82. She recorded negative splits on each of the last eight laps of the 25-lap race – ever faster times.

“I kept saying to myself: ‘If you can feel the heat, so will everyone else,'” said 29-year-old Sisson, who was in the lead for around three quarters of the race.

Karissa Schweizer and Alicia Monson finished second and third, respectively. Schweizer also qualified over 5,000 meters and hopes to do both races in Tokyo.

Eye on Knighton

For the second time in a row, 17-year-old Erriyon Knighton competed in the 200-meter run with reigning world champion Noah Lyles. And for the second time in a row, it was Knighton who prevailed.

Knighton, a four-star football recruit before turning pro earlier this year, defeated Lyles to win his semi-final run with a dazzling time of 19.88 seconds, a new personal best. He noted in a post-race press conference that he was also slowing 20 meters to go, suggesting that he may run an even faster time in Sunday’s final – which also saw Kenny Bednarek, the 100-meter Olympic qualifiers Fred Kerley and Terrance Laird. who recently won two national titles at LSU will be there.

Victories for Reese, Nageotte

Brittney Reese is heading to her fourth Olympics after winning the long jump final on Saturday with a best jump of 23 feet, 4 inches. The 2016 Olympic runner-up jumped ten centimeters further than reigning NCAA champion Tara Davis, who finished runner-up and also qualified for Tokyo.

Meanwhile, Katie Nageotte broke the bar at 16 feet, 5 inches in the women’s pole vault to set a new meet record and become the world’s best. Morgann LeLeux and the reigning Olympic silver medalist Sandi Morris rounded off the team in second and third place.

Contact Tom Schad at [email protected] or on Twitter @Tom_Schad.