Athletics at the 2020 Summer Olympics – Men's 400 metres hurdles

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Men's 400 metres hurdles
at the Games of the XXXII Olympiad
Semifinal dos 400m.jpg
Semifinal 2
VenueOlympic Stadium
Dates30 July 2021
1 August 2021
3 August 2021
Competitors36 from 26 nations
Winning time45.94 WR
1st place, gold medalist(s) Karsten Warholm  Norway
2nd place, silver medalist(s) Rai Benjamin  United States
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) Alison dos Santos  Brazil
← 2016
2024 →

The men's 400 metres hurdles event at the 2020 Summer Olympics took place between 30 July and 3 August 2021 at the Olympic Stadium.[1] 36 athletes from 26 nations competed.[2]

In what has been described as one of the greatest races in Olympic history,[3] Karsten Warholm of Norway won, setting a new world record of 45.94 seconds. He beat his own previous record, set a month before, by 0.76 seconds; silver medalist Rai Benjamin of the United States beat the previous record by 0.53 seconds.[3] Brazilian hurdler Alison dos Santos took bronze and would have bettered the almost 30-year-old Olympic record in the final by 0.06 seconds. The medals were the first ever in the event for both Norway and Brazil; the United States' podium streak in the event stretched to four Games.


Following more than a decade of dominance by Edwin Moses, Kevin Young set the world record at 46.78 in the 1992 Olympic Final, being the first man to break 47 seconds (Moses' best time had been 47.02).

The 47-second barrier would not be broken again until 2018, by Abderrahman Samba, then in 2019, Karsten Warholm and Rai Benjamin broke it in the same race.

In 2021 at the United States Olympic Trials, Benjamin narrowly missed Young's world record, and a week later, Warholm broke it, stopping the clock at 46.70. It was expected it would take a world record to win the Olympic gold medal.

Both Benjamin and Warholm drew each other in the first semifinal: Warholm sped up at the finish to take the win in 47.30, while Alison dos Santos ran 47.31 to win the second semifinal over Samba.

In the final, Warholm started quickly, gaining a slight advantage over the first barrier. One lane to his inside, Benjamin was able to see the position of his opponent. By the fifth hurdle, Warholm had a half a stride advantage, but through the final turn, Benjamin pulled that back in steadily.

Benjamin, with the momentum, cleared the final hurdle even with Warholm, but Warholm opened up in the 40 metre dash to the finish line, winning by two metres.[3]

Warholm's time was 45.94 - breaking the 46-second barrier - and also demolishing his existing world record by 0.76 seconds. Benjamin ran 46.17, more than half a second faster than the previous world record, to win silver, and bronze medalist dos Santos ran 46.72, just 0.02 slower than Warholm's previous world record. If not for Warholm's performance, Benjamin's time would have been the greatest improvement in this event's world record since 1968. Warholm's new record improved his previous record by 1.6%, the largest improvement by percentage in a men's track world record since Michael Johnson lowered the 200m world record by 1.7% in 1996. Also, using World Athletics scoring tables in an attempt to compare the quality of Warholm's performance to other men's track world records, the only world-record performances superior to that of Warholm were Usain Bolt's records in the 100m and 200m.[4]

The all-time list saw Young move down to No. 4 as all three broke his Olympic record; further to this, all three medalists broke their respective continental records, six of the eight competitors in the race set new national records,[3] and all eight finalists recorded the best times in history for their respective placements in the race.[4]

This race was one of the few times[citation needed] in which all three medalists broke the existing Olympic record and the top two finishers also broke the existing world record; and the same outcome occurred in the women's 400m hurdles final the next day.


This was the 27th appearance of the event, which was introduced in 1900. It was left off the 1912 program, but has been contested at every Games since the post-World War I return of the Olympics in 1920.

The reigning world champion was Karsten Warholm of Norway. The reigning Olympic champion Kerron Clement of the United States did not compete.[5]

The British Virgin Islands competed in the men's 400 metres hurdles for the first time. The United States made its 26th appearance, most of any nation, having missed only the boycotted 1980 Games.


Approximately forty athletes were expected to compete; the exact number depended on how many nations used universality places to enter athletes in addition to the 40 qualifying through time or ranking (1 universality place was used in 2016).[6]

A National Olympic Committee (NOC) could enter up to 3 qualified athletes in the men's 400 metres hurdles event if all athletes met the entry standard or qualified by ranking during the qualifying period. (The limit of 3 had been in place since the 1930 Olympic Congress.) The qualifying standard was 48.90 seconds. This standard was "set for the sole purpose of qualifying athletes with exceptional performances unable to qualify through the IAAF World Rankings pathway." The world rankings, based on the average of the best five results for the athlete over the qualifying period and weighted by the importance of the meet, was used thereafter to qualify athletes until the cap of 40 is reached.[6][7]

The qualifying period was originally from 1 May 2019 to 29 June 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the period was suspended from 6 April 2020 to 30 November 2020, with the end date extended to 29 June 2021. The world rankings period start date was also changed from 1 May 2019 to 30 June 2020. Athletes who had met the qualifying standard during that time were still qualified, but those using world rankings would not be able to count performances during that time. The qualifying time standards could be obtained in various meets during the given period that have the approval of the IAAF. Only outdoor meets were eligible. The most recent Area Championships could be counted in the ranking, even if they didn't take place during the qualifying period.[6][8]

NOCs could also use their universality place—each NOC could enter one male athlete regardless of time if they had no male athletes meeting the entry standard for an athletics event—in the 400 metres hurdles.[6]

Entry number: 40.

Qualification standard No. of athletes NOC Nominated athletes
Entry standard – 48.90 3  Jamaica Jaheel Hyde
Kemar Mowatt
Shawn Rowe
3  Japan Takatoshi Abe
Kazuki Kurokawa
Hiromu Yamauchi
3  United States Rai Benjamin
David Kendziera
Kenny Selmon
2  Brazil Alison dos Santos
Márcio Teles
1  Algeria Abdelmalik Lahoulou
1  British Virgin Islands Kyron McMaster
1  Estonia Rasmus Mägi
1  France Ludvy Vaillant
1  Germany Constantin Preis
1  Ireland Thomas Barr
1  Kenya Moitalel Naadokila
1  Norway Karsten Warholm
1  Poland Patryk Dobek
1  Qatar Abderrahman Samba
1  South Africa Sokwakhana Zazini
1  Switzerland Kariem Hussein
1  Turkey Yasmani Copello
World ranking 2  Germany Joshua Abuaku
Luke Campbell
1  Chinese Taipei Chen Chieh
1  Costa Rica Gerald Drummond
1  Czech Republic Vít Müller
1  France Wilfried Happio
1  Great Britain Chris McAlister
1  Hungary Máté Koroknai
1  India M. P. Jabir
1  Iran Mahdi Pirjahan
1  Italy Alessandro Sibilio
2  Netherlands Ramsey Angela
Nick Smidt
1  Spain Sergio Fernández
1  Tunisia Mohamed Touati
Universality Places 1  Cape Verde Jordin Andrade
1  Mozambique Creve Armando Machava
1  Seychelles Ned Justeen Azemia
Total 40

Competition format[edit]

The event continued to use the three-round format used previously in every Games since 1908 (except for a four-round competition in 1952).[9]


Prior to this competition, the existing World, Olympic, and Area records were as follows:

World record  Karsten Warholm (NOR) 46.70 Oslo, Norway 1 July 2021
Olympic record  Kevin Young (USA) 46.78 Barcelona, Spain 6 August 1992
Area Athlete Time Nation
Africa (records) Samuel Matete 47.10  Zambia
Asia (records) Abderrahman Samba 46.98  Qatar
Europe (records) Karsten Warholm 46.70 WR  Norway
North, Central America
and Caribbean
Kevin Young 46.78  United States
Oceania (records) Rohan Robinson 48.28  Australia
South America (records) Alison dos Santos 47.34  Brazil

New records[edit]

The following new World and Olympic records were set during this competition:

World record  Karsten Warholm (NOR) 45.94 Tokyo, Japan 3 August 2021
Olympic record  Karsten Warholm (NOR) 45.94 Tokyo, Japan 3 August 2021

The following new Area (continental) records were set during this competition:

Area Athlete Time Nation
Europe (records) Karsten Warholm 45.94 WR  Norway
North, Central America
and Caribbean
Rai Benjamin 46.17  United States
South America (records) Alison dos Santos 46.72  Brazil

The following national records were set during this competition:

Country Athlete Round Time Notes
Brazil Alison dos Santos Semifinals 47.31 AR
Final 46.72 AR
Estonia Rasmus Mägi Semifinals 48.36
Final 48.11
Norway Karsten Warholm Final 45.94 WR, OR, AR
United States Rai Benjamin Final 46.17 AR
British Virgin Islands Kyron McMaster Final 47.08
Turkey Yasmani Copello Final 47.81


All times are Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)

The men's 400 metres hurdles took place over three separate days.[1]

Date Time Round
Friday, 30 July 2021 9:00 Quarterfinals
Sunday, 1 August 2021 21:05 Semifinals
Tuesday, 3 August 2021 9:00 Final


Round 1[edit]

Qualification rule: first 4 of each heat (Q) plus the 4 fastest times (q) qualified.

Heat 1[edit]

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Reaction Time Notes
1 2 Abderrahman Samba  Qatar 0.200 48.38 Q
2 6 Alison dos Santos  Brazil 0.152 48.42 Q
3 8 Abdelmalik Lahoulou  Algeria 0.149 48.83 Q, SB
4 4 Kemar Mowatt  Jamaica 0.139 49.06 Q
5 5 Ludvy Vaillant  France 0.152 49.23 q
6 7 Máté Koroknai  Hungary 0.151 49.80
7 3 Chen Chieh  Chinese Taipei 0.158 50.96 =SB

Heat 2[edit]

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Reaction Time Notes
1 4 Jaheel Hyde  Jamaica 0.184 48.54 Q
2 7 Kenneth Selmon  United States 0.185 48.61 Q
3 8 Hiromu Yamauchi  Japan 0.184 49.21 Q
4 9 Constantin Preis  Germany 0.215 49.73 Q
5 6 Creve Armando Machava  Mozambique 0.159 50.37 SB
6 2 Mohamed Amine Touati  Tunisia 0.152 50.58
7 5 Sergio Fernández  Spain 0.152 51.51
8 3 Ned Azemia  Seychelles 0.151 51.67

Heat 3[edit]

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Reaction Time Notes
1 8 Karsten Warholm  Norway 0.157 48.65 Q
2 7 Thomas Barr  Ireland 0.147 49.02 Q
3 3 Alessandro Sibilio  Italy 0.126 49.11 Q
4 4 Luke Campbell  Germany 0.145 49.19 Q, SB
5 5 Wilfried Happio  France 0.152 49.39 q
6 6 Márcio Teles  Brazil 0.154 49.70 SB
7 2 Gerald Drummond  Costa Rica 0.183 49.92

Heat 4[edit]

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Reaction Time Notes
1 2 Kyron McMaster  British Virgin Islands 0.184 48.79 Q
2 5 Yasmani Copello  Turkey 0.188 49.00 Q
3 4 Shawn Rowe  Jamaica 0.157 49.18 Q, SB
4 6 David Kendziera  United States 0.192 49.23 Q
5 8 Joshua Abuaku  Germany 0.169 49.50 q, SB
6 3 Kazuki Kurokawa  Japan 0.154 50.30
7 7 Jordin Andrade  Cape Verde 0.202 50.64 SB

Heat 5[edit]

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Reaction Time Notes
1 6 Rai Benjamin  United States 0.209 48.60 Q
2 4 Rasmus Mägi  Estonia 0.160 48.73 Q
3 2 Sokwakhana Zazini  South Africa 0.147 49.51 Q, SB
4 7 Nick Smidt  Netherlands 0.181 49.55 Q
5 3 Vít Müller  Czech Republic 0.143 49.59 q
6 8 Takatoshi Abe  Japan 0.166 49.98
7 5 M. P. Jabir  India 0.167 50.77


Qualification rule: first 2 of each heat (Q) plus the 2 fastest times (q) qualified.

Semifinal 1[edit]

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Reaction Time Notes
1 7 Karsten Warholm  Norway 0.156 47.30 Q
2 5 Rai Benjamin  United States 0.184 47.37 Q
3 4 Yasmani Copello  Turkey 0.183 47.88 q, SB
4 6 Thomas Barr  Ireland 0.151 48.26 SB
5 9 Kemar Mowatt  Jamaica 0.166 48.95
6 8 Sokwakhana Zazini  South Africa 0.150 48.99 SB
7 3 Ludvy Vaillant  France 0.162 49.02 SB
8 2 Joshua Abuaku  Germany 0.179 49.93

Semifinal 2[edit]

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Reaction Time Notes
1 7 Alison dos Santos  Brazil 0.171 47.31 Q, AR
2 5 Abderrahman Samba  Qatar 0.188 47.47 Q, SB
3 4 Alessandro Sibilio  Italy 0.123 47.93 q, PB
4 6 Kenneth Selmon  United States 0.225 48.58
5 8 Luke Campbell  Germany 0.153 48.62 PB
6 9 Shawn Rowe  Jamaica 0.204 48.83 PB
7 2 Nick Smidt  Netherlands 0.164 49.35 SB
8 3 Vít Müller  Czech Republic 0.145 49.69

Semifinal 3[edit]

Rank Lane Athlete Nation Reaction Time Notes
1 7 Kyron McMaster  British Virgin Islands 0.179 48.26 Q
2 6 Rasmus Mägi  Estonia 0.156 48.36 Q, NR
3 9 David Kendziera  United States 0.190 48.67
4 2 Constantin Preis  Germany 0.186 49.10
5 5 Abdelmalik Lahoulou  Algeria 0.125 49.14
6 8 Hiromu Yamauchi  Japan 0.192 49.35
7 3 Wilfried Happio  France 0.130 49.49
8 4 Jaheel Hyde  Jamaica 0.159 1:27.38


Rank Lane Athlete Nation Reaction Time Notes
1st place, gold medalist(s) 6 Karsten Warholm  Norway 0.145 45.94 WR
2nd place, silver medalist(s) 5 Rai Benjamin  United States 0.168 46.17 AR
3rd place, bronze medalist(s) 7 Alison dos Santos  Brazil 0.156 46.72 AR
4 4 Kyron McMaster  British Virgin Islands 0.157 47.08 NR
5 8 Abderrahman Samba  Qatar 0.186 47.12 SB
6 3 Yasmani Copello  Turkey 0.166 47.81 =NR
7 9 Rasmus Mägi  Estonia 0.167 48.11 NR
8 2 Alessandro Sibilio  Italy 0.144 48.77


  1. ^ a b "Athletics Competition Schedule". Tokyo 2020. Retrieved 21 January 2020.
  2. ^ "400 metres Hudlres, Men". Olympedia. Retrieved 10 August 2021.
  3. ^ a b c d "Karsten Warholm smashes 400m hurdles world record in one of greatest races in history". The Guardian. 3 August 2021. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  4. ^ a b Gault, Jonathan (3 August 2021). "The Greatest Race Ever? Karsten Warholm (45.94) Defeats Rai Benjamin (46.17) to Obliterate 400M Hurdles World Record & Win Olympic Gold". Retrieved 21 January 2022.
  5. ^ IAAF profile of Kerron Clement
  6. ^ a b c d "Qualification System – Games of the XXXI Olympiad – Athletics" (PDF). IAAF. Retrieved 31 March 2019.
  7. ^ "IAAF to follow other sports with world ranking system for athletes". BBC Sport. 7 March 2018. Retrieved 2 August 2018.
  8. ^ "Olympic qualification period suspended until 1 December 2020". World Athletics. 6 April 2020. Retrieved 9 April 2020.
  9. ^ "Athletics Explanatory Guide". Tokyo 2020. August 2019.