As the anticipation peaked, the audience couldn’t have asked for a more impressive lineup in the final of the 400 meter hurdles. Trevor Bassett, the reigning World indoor champion for the 400m sprint, positioned on the outer lane eight, has shown phenomenal improvement this season. Likewise, Jaheel Hyde, who had made it to the semi-finals in three different locations: Rio, London, and Tokyo, was about to compete in the grand final here in Eugene, attracting much hope from his fellow Jamaicans.
Alison de Santos, the fastest man this year and the third fastest in history, who earned a bronze at the Olympics, was ready for an upgrade to gold. Wilfred Happio, the under 23 European Champion, had set a personal best in qualifying, ranking second on the French all-time list, demonstrating the extraordinary effort needed to earn a spot in this final.
The Olympic champion and the world record holder, who aspired to be the first to clinch this title three times, was in high spirits, confident that his hamstring issues were a thing of the past. Would Rai Benjamin, the silver medalist from Doha and Tokyo, and the second fastest man in history, be able to ignite wild enthusiasm among the spectators? The only way to do that was by outperforming the best.
Among the finalists was Rasmus Mägi, who had experienced semi-finals in Moscow, Beijing, and Doha, and finally, had an opportunity to partake in the ultimate competition. Khalifa Rosser, positioned on the innermost lane, had been breaking personal records this year, becoming the fourth fastest globally.
Together, these athletes had pushed the boundaries of the sport, garnering awe-inspiring feats in Tokyo. Could they replicate this here in Eugene? The anticipation was sky-high for a race that could go down in history.
As the race began, the roar from the crowd was deafening. Each sprinter bolted out of their blocks, with Carson making a speedy start, rapidly gaining on Happio. Benjamin was more deliberate in his pace, while De Santos strived to catch up with Hyde, who had understandably started fast.
Coming around the top bend, De Santos took the lead, with Benjamin starting to gain momentum. However, the Olympic medalists were not far behind. Despite a brilliant start, Carson began to falter while Benjamin and De Santos surged ahead. With unmatched determination, skill, and belief, it was De Santos who emerged victorious, setting a new championship record and achieving a personal best.
The evening was all about celebrating the new champion, Alison de Santos, who had outperformed the best in the world, including the previous year’s medalists, in an unforgettable showdown. A wave of cheer erupted from the crowd as Benjamin secured silver, and Bassett claimed bronze with an impressive personal best of 47.39 seconds.
After a challenging season dealing with quadriceps problems, Benjamin was elated with his silver finish. Despite his remarkable performances in the preliminary rounds, the pressure of the final seemed too much for Carson, who couldn’t maintain his speed throughout the race.
De Santos’ tireless effort since finishing third in Tokyo paid off as he basked in the spotlight, with the audience’s applause echoing in the arena. Despite a tough season, Benjamin’s silver was a testament to his hard work and determination, which should not be understated. And not to be forgotten, Bassett’s breakthrough performance rewarded him with a new personal record and a coveted bronze medal.
The moment of triumph belonged to De Santos, however, who remained focused and composed throughout the race, displaying an impressive strategy and execution. His victory, the first