After Warholm’s WR stunner, a look at track’s great races

Aug 2, 2021, 4:22 PM | Updated: Aug 3, 2021, 6:28 am

TOKYO (AP) — Karsten Warholm’s staggering run to shatter his own 400-meter hurdles world record at the Olympics on Tuesday has posed the question: Was it the greatest track race ever? Maybe.

Warholm won gold in 45.94 seconds, carving .76 seconds off his previous mark and taking the 400 hurdles sub-46 and into new territory. Rai Benjamin’s 46.17 for silver also broke the world record of 46.70 seconds. Alison dos Santos came within a whisker of it in third place with 46.72.

Three of the four fastest times in the history of the event in the same jaw-dropping race. Benjamin said it’s the best race ever. Warholm said it might be.

There’s no definitive answer in this great debate, but here are a few other possible contenders for the “G.O.A.T.” when it comes to track races:


In terms of pushing the boundaries of human possibility, Usain Bolt’s 100-meter world record of 9.58 seconds at the 2009 world championships has to be considered. No one came within touching distance of the Jamaican that night in Berlin as he took track’s most treasured mark to a place no one believed possible.

It’s more than a decade later and still no one else has gone below 9.69 seconds.


American Billy Mills delivered an epic finish in the 10,000 meters the last time the Olympics were in Tokyo, in 1964. Mills set an Olympic record of 28 minutes, 24.4 seconds, but it was the drama of his victory that made it unforgettable.

Mills led at the final bell ahead of world-record holder Ron Clarke of Australia. Mills suddenly got a shove from Clarke and Tunisia’s Mohammed Gammoudi then elbowed his way between both of them. With back markers littering the track and Mills now well behind the other two, he suddenly unleashed a burst of pace that took him surging to victory.

Mills was the first and is still the only American to win gold in the 10,000 at the Olympics.


At the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, Michael Johnson had golden running shoes and one gold medal already in the 400 meters. But he produced the Games’ real golden moment in the 200.

He was an unbeatable mix of power and precision to win in 19.32 seconds, break the 200-meter world record for the second time in just over a month, do it at his home Olympics, and complete a 200-400 double. A quarter-century later, only Bolt and Yohan Blake have gone faster in the 200.


Another piece of 400-meter hurdles history, this time in the women’s race.

Everyone knew Dalilah Muhammad and Sydney McLaughlin were likely to produce a great contest at the 2019 world championships after their thrilling rivalry through the season. It turned out to be one of the greatest.

Muhammad had a solid lead into the final straight but McLaughlin refused to give in. With McLaughlin bearing down on her, Muhammad just won in a world record of 52.16 seconds, breaking the mark of 52.20 she set three months earlier. McLaughlin’s 52.23 was the third-fastest time ever.


Britain’s Roger Bannister broke through one of track’s most momentous barriers when he ran the first sub-four-minute mile on May 6, 1954.

Less than two months later, Australia’s John Landy bettered that time. They met in the mile race at that year’s Commonwealth Games in Vancouver, Canada, and it quickly came down to just the two of them.

Landy appeared much stronger and opened a big lead at one point. Bannister clawed his way back. Landy was still in front on the last turn, but his mistake of looking over his left shoulder for his opponent as Bannister overtook him on the right is part of legend. Bannister bolted and won a beautiful battle of two distance-running greats.


More AP Olympics: and

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Associated Press

Olympic champion Hector leads after 1st run of World Cup GS

KILLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Defending Olympic champion Sara Hector led after the opening run of the first World Cup giant slalom of the season on Saturday as she looked set to continue her fantastic form in that discipline. The Swedish skier posted a time of 52.29 seconds on the course in Killington, Vermont, to take […]
1 day ago
Serbia's players leave the pitch at the end of the World Cup group G soccer match between Brazil an...
Associated Press

Serbia charged over locker room Kosovo flag at World Cup

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — The Serbian soccer federation was charged by FIFA on Saturday for hanging a political banner about neighboring independent state Kosovo in the locker room before playing Brazil at the World Cup. It showed a map of Serbia that included the territory of its former province, which has been an independent state […]
1 day ago
FILE - Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule looks on during an NFL preseason football game again...
Associated Press

Nebraska signs Matt Rhule to 8-year deal as football coach

After six straight losing seasons and more than 20 years removed from its 1990s heyday, Nebraska is turning to Matt Rhule to rebuild its football program and make it competitive in the Big Ten Conference. Rhule signed an eight-year contract to be the Cornhuskers’ next coach and will be introduced Monday at a news conference, […]
1 day ago
Poland's Robert Lewandowski celebrates scoring his side's 2nd goal during the World Cup group C soc...
Associated Press

Lewandowski scores at World Cup, Poland beats Saudis 2-0

AL RAYYAN, Qatar (AP) — Finally! Robert Lewandowski at last scored a goal in a World Cup match on Saturday, helping Poland beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 and boosting his team’s chances of reaching the knockout stages. Lewandowski shed tears after scoring in the 82nd minute. He raced toward the corner with his arms outstretched, then […]
1 day ago
Laborers cheer at a fan festival at the Asian Town cricket stadium in Doha, Qatar, Friday, Nov. 25,...
Associated Press

On outskirts of Doha, laborers watch World Cup they built

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Far from Doha’s luxury hotels and sprawling new World Cup stadiums, scores of South Asian workers poured into a cricket ground in the city’s sandy outskirts to enjoy the tournament they helped create. Unlike the official FIFA fan zone near Doha’s pristine corniche, this one has no $14 beer or foreign […]
1 day ago
England's Jude Bellingham, centre, scores his side's opening goal during the World Cup group B socc...
Associated Press

World Cup analysts cite more goals from crosses, penalties

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — More crosses creating more goals. Winning penalties with “total genius” like Cristiano Ronaldo. Pressing opponents to quickly win back the ball. FIFA’s expert analysts picked their World Cup trends Saturday from the first 16 games after each team played once. What the Technical Study Group saw was more and better crosses […]
1 day ago
After Warholm’s WR stunner, a look at track’s great races