Using words to describe the Olympic final of the men’s 400m hurdles could almost be considered unfair.
Unfair on the athletes, unfair on the mere English, Norwegian, Portuguese or indeed any language of your choice.
Last month in Oslo, Karsten Warholm shaved a small 0.08 seconds off the longstanding 46.78 world record set by Kevin Young in winning the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Games.
In Tokyo, the 25-year-old from Norway won gold in 45.94, leaving us all utterly speechless. All three medallists, with Rai Benjamin of the USA second (46.17) and Alison dos Santos (46.72) a remarkably-distant third, were inside Young’s old record.
Here are some of the best reactions and attempts to explain what happened, an unfathomable conquest which some stayed up until the dead of night for, and others had the shock of waking up to.
2012 Olympic 100m hurdles champion Sally Pearson sums up the struggle to process what has come before our eyes
How are the other athletes supposed to follow what we just saw! I love athletics and I love the athletes but I’m still trying to process what @kwarholm did. My eyes will be watching the rest of the athletics but my brain is trying to catch up from this morning.
— Sally Pearson OAM (@sallypearson) August 3, 2021
The Backstraight Boys Podcasters Jody and Bayo are rarely left speechless
— World Athletics (@WorldAthletics) August 3, 2021
Winning meant so much to Rai Benjamin
— AW (@AthleticsWeekly) August 3, 2021
An extraordinary visualisation if you imagine him in the British final as the only runner jumping over hurdles and still winning
Karsten Warholm's 400m hurdles world record (45.94 seconds) would have won him gold at this year's British Championships… over the flat 400m.
— Ben Bloom (@benbloomsport) August 3, 2021
My personal favourite take on the race
A similar striking comparison in the context of Tokyo 2020
This man beat 18 guys in the open 400 heats, going over ten barriers 🤯#Olympics
— David Oliver (@doliversub13) August 3, 2021
Number crunching to make your head explode
Equivalent performances to a 45.94 400m hurdles, per World Athletics scoring tables:
7:42.59 3000m steeple
— Jonathan Gault (@jgault13) August 3, 2021
Finally, what we already knew in one sentence. (Shouted louder for those at the back).
TRACK AND FIELD IS THE GREATEST SPORT IN THE WORLD.
— David Melly (@davidlikesyou) August 3, 2021