By Neto Baptiste
Despite choosing to represent the USA, 400 metre hurdler, Rai Benjamin, reminded that he is still very much Antiguan at heart.
Benjamin, who represented Antigua and Barbuda at the 2015 Carifta Games where he won a silver medal in the 400 metre race, however said he has no regrets over his decision to switch allegiance in 2018.
“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a regret, but it’s just the opportunities from a financial standpoint and the opportunities from a professional standpoint, I felt that competing for the US checked a lot of boxes. Sometimes I feel like there is a lot of disappointment that I didn’t compete for Antigua, but it’s something that I kind of got over at a certain point,” he said.
“I had to talk to my mom [Gale Mason] and my dad [Winston Benjamin] and my dad, he’s always telling me that no matter what decision I make, he is always going to support me so I was grateful for that,” he added.
Benjamin also represented Antigua and Barbuda in 2013 when he competed at the World Youth Championships held in Ukraine.
The athlete said he had the support of both parents when faced with the decision of which of the two countries to represent.
“As a professional cricketer, he’s done a lot for the West Indies and, in my personal opinion, represented Antigua well; so for him to tell me that meant a lot to me, but I definitely do think about it. It was funny because I was at Worlds [World Championships] last September and October and where we set up camp was right where Antigua set up camp, so it was just a full circle moment to see the Antiguan flag in front of me while I was at the World Championships and seeing Cejhae Greene and stuff like that was really cool,” he said.
Benjamin is the joint third fastest man in history in the 400 metres hurdles with a personal best time of 46.98 seconds, one of only four times in history under 47.00 seconds.