By Neto Baptist
Emerging 400 meters hurdler Rai Benjamin said not focusing too much on what he has achieved in the relatively short time he has represented the USA, has kept him grounded but focused on the bigger task at hand.
The son of former Antiguan and West Indies fast bowler, Winston Benjamin, Rai said that although he does not forget his high points, he does not allow them to dictate where he goes from there.
“For me, in order to be successful you need to have a short memory and don’t dwell on your achievements right now so I just kind of put that in the rearview mirror and just keep looking ahead. I am grateful to have had this amount of success this early. I just always say to myself, that was okay but let’s just focus on the next thing so it’s always the next thing for me,” he said.
Rai is the joint third fastest man in history in the 400 meters hurdles with a personal best time of 46.98 seconds, one of only four times in history under 47.00 seconds. He won a silver medal at his first World Championships in 2019 in the men’s 400 m hurdles, and a gold medal in the 4×400 meters relay at the same competition.
The former Antiguan athlete said, however, that it is not as easy as it appears given that fan and supporters try to remind you of your achievements every chance they get.
“It’s hard because you really look to see the amount of weight you’re carrying until you shut it down and you look back and I think that being in this position right now where things are closed and nothing is happening, you kind of reflect n everything that has been happening and you see the amount of pressure you’re under but it’s all part of the sport and I like that pressure so I think that’s why I’ve been able to compete so well and perform so well,” he said.
Rai represented Antigua and Barbuda at the 2013 World Youth Championships held in in Athletics. The athlete, however, applied for a transfer of allegiance in 2017 but had to wait until 2018 after being told that the International Amateur Athletic Federation (IAAF) had suspended all transfers.