By Sudipto Ganguly
TOKYO (Reuters) - It was difficult for American Rai Benjamin to comprehend how he ended up finishing second best despite running a massive half a second inside the existing world record in the men's 400 metres hurdles final at the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday.
Norway's Karsten Warholm destroyed his own world record of 46.70 seconds with a breathtaking 45.94 to take gold but he would probably give a bit of credit to Benjamin for pushing him to such an extraordinary feat.
Benjamin took silver for the U.S. in 46.17 after staying neck-and-neck with Warholm going into the final straight.
"If you would have told me I would run 46.1 and lose, I would probably beat you up," Benjamin later said. "I'd tell you to get out of my room.
"I saw the 45.9 and I was, 'What the hell?' And I saw 46.1 and was like, 'There's no way I really ran 46 and lost'."
Brazilian Alison Dos Santos was also close to Warholm's previous record as he picked up bronze in 46.72.
Benjamin said Tuesday's 400m final will probably go down as the best race in the history of the Games.
"It's going to be a lot to process these next 24 hours, but I am really happy to be a part of history like this, just to show where this event can go," he said.
"This was probably the best race... in Olympic history. I don't even think Usain Bolt's (record in the 100m) topped that. (It was) 45.9, man; 46.1 and I lost. The nature of the beast.
"I thought it was going to take 46-low to win, but at the same time I went into the race and I just wanted to win."
At 24, Benjamin is a year younger than the Norwegian and he predicted that their rivalry could have more in store.
"The kid's amazing. You can't be mad at that at all. As a competitor it hurts a lot, but that's just the nature of the sport," Benjamin said of Warholm, refuting suggestions the Tokyo track or shoe technology had anything to do with the fast times.
"(At the) 2022 Oregon (world championships), I'll be home. That will be great. It's my backyard and then Paris (Olympics) in 2024. I am excited for the next couple of years to come."
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Ken Ferris)