Rai Benjamin, Gabby Thomas persevere for U.S. track and field titles with historic times
EUGENE, Oregon — The last day of the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships was defined by perseverance.
Olympic and world silver medalist Rai Benjamin ran the fifth-fastest 400m hurdles in history — 46.62 — for a fourth consecutive national title.
Benjamin was sidelined from hurdling for eight weeks in May and June after a nerve flareup from his back through his quad. Now, he is likely headed for an August world championships showdown with Norwegian Karsten Warholm and Brazilian Alison dos Santos, who along with Benjamin make up the three fastest men in history.
Also Sunday, Olympic bronze medalist Gabby Thomas ran the sixth-fastest 200m in history, a 21.60 to prevail by 34 hundredths over 100m champion Sha’Carri Richardson, who also qualified for the world team in the 200m. Thomas supplanted world champion Shericka Jackson of Jamaica as the world’s fastest woman this year.
USATF OUTDOORS: Results
Thomas was eighth at USATF Outdoors last year to miss the world team while slowed by a torn hamstring.
Shamier Little also authored a comeback story. She outdueled Dalilah Muhammad by 19 hundredths to go five years between national titles in the 400m hurdles. Olympic and world champion and world record holder Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone has a bye into worlds in the event but may give it up to focus on the flat 400m.
Erriyon Knighton, 19, became the youngest U.S. men’s champion in a track event in 43 years, taking the 200m in 19.72 seconds over Olympic and world silver medalist Kenny Bednarek. Knighton is now second-fastest in the world this year behind Noah Lyles, who has a bye into worlds as reigning champion and didn’t contest the 200m this week.
World 100m champion Fred Kerley was beaten out for the last spot on the 200m team by one hundredth by NCAA 100m champion Courtney Lindsey. Kerley still has a bye into the 100m at worlds.
Nia Akins won the 800m by overtaking Olympic bronze medalist Raevyn Rogers in the last 100 meters. Ajeé Wilson, a two-time world bronze medalist, was last in the eight-woman field to miss a global championship team for the first time since 2012. Wilson said she was slowed by an unspecified issue she’s been dealing with for the past two years.
Bryce Hoppel repeated as men’s 800m champion after a physical race where a yellow flag was raised on the first lap amid bumping near the front.
Olympic and world champion Katie Moon cleared 4.90 meters, best in the world this year, to win the pole vault.
In the hammer, Brooke Andersen edged DeAnna Price, 78.65 meters to 78.18, in a duel between the last two world champs.
Devon Allen scratched the 110m hurdles semifinals. He came to the meet having not cleared a hurdle since injuring a calf on June 26, then was 14th in Saturday’s first round. Allen turns his attention to Philadelphia Eagles training camp, bidding to make that team after spending last season on the practice squad as a wide receiver.
Grant Fisher, who last year broke the American 5000m and 10,000m records, scratched the 5000m due to a stress reaction in his femur. He aggravated the injury in Thursday’s 10,000m, where he was fourth. Abdihamid Nur later won the 5000m final.
The track and field season continues with a Diamond League meet in Chorzow, Poland, next Sunday, live on Peacock .