Rai Benjamin
Rai Benjamin

A week after Alison Dos Santos claimed the world lead in one of athletics’ most demanding events, American rival Rai Benjamin surpassed his 46.86 with a 46.64 at the Los Angeles Grand Prix on Saturday (18 May).

Not far from where he competed at USC, Benjamin took quick command of the field by the final meters of the backstretch and dramatically opened it up by the homestretch to clear the rest of the field by more than 40 meters, crossing the finish line in a stadium record and the ninth fastest time in history.

Second was Jamaica’s Roshawn Clark in 48.11, while Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands (who beat Benjamin for Budapest silver in 2023) was third in 48.51.

Benjamin, the perennial silver medalist over the past three seasons, described his world-leading mark as “feeling great.”

“I ran fast a couple of weeks ago in the 400, so I knew the strength was there,” he told NBC post-race. “It means a lot to open up 46.6.”

Despite acknowledging the importance of Dos Santos’ contribution to the world lead progression for this year’s 400m hurdles, Benjamin remained focused on his own path. “It was impressive, but I just wanted to focus on my own race; I knew I was in 46 shape, so I just wanted to, I know it sounds cliché, but, execute my own race and run like hell coming home.”

Meanwhile, Benjamin’s former USC teammate, training partner, and countryman Michael Norman took advantage of familiar surroundings to comfortably win the men’s 400m in 44.53, over the likes of Grenadian icon Kirani James (44.85) and countryman Vernon Norwood (44.86).

In the post-race interview, Norman said, “I’m here to carry on the legacy of strong American 400[meter] runners and bring home gold this summer.”

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone returned to the World Athletics stage with a dominant run, not in her signature 400m hurdles or the flat 400m, but in the sprint event half that distance, winning in 22.07 over a field including Abby Steiner (22.32), Gabby Thomas, Jenna Prandini, Rhasidat Adeleke, and Brittany Brown (22.35).

“Pretty good,” McLaughlin-Levrone exclaimed post-race, good enough for the second fastest in the world this year to NCAA collegian McKenzie Long’s 22.03.

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