Rai still eyeing Olympic gold, aims to keep improving

Rai clocked 46.17 seconds, the second-fastest time in history for his silver medal at his first Olympics.
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By Neto Baptiste

US hurdler and Antiguan citizen, Rai Benjamin, said his aim is to continue improving as he strives to attain his ultimate objective of winning an Olympic gold medal in the 400m hurdles.

Benjamin clocked 46.17 seconds, the second-fastest time in history for his silver medal at his first Olympics on August 3. He was bettered only by Norway’s Karsten Warholm who took .76 off his previous world record of 46.70 to finish first with a time of 45.94 seconds.

“I just have to get better. I made mistakes in my race and it was just one of those things where you get to that stage and you can’t afford to make any mistakes because the smallest things will cost you but I think that as an athlete I just need to get better, faster, stronger,” he said. 

Speaking on Observer Radio’s Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Benjamin said that although he was initially disappointed with not clinching the gold, the performance was a “very special one”.

The athlete, who will compete in the US this weekend, is however not under pressure to repeat his Olympic performance.

“I am not necessarily worried about performing like that every single time I get on the track because I know that’s just not the case because that was just a very special moment when you have four or five of the fastest guys in the world in the same event at the Olympic Games and in the final and that’s just the type of performance you’re going to get. It was a truly historic moment but I don’t put pressure on myself to perform like that or to run that fast when I get into a race,” he said. 

Following his silver medal performance, he returned with the USA’s men’s 4X400 relay team to win gold in a time of 2:55.70 (two minutes, 55.70 seconds).

The first time Olympian dubbed the experience an exciting and enlightening one.

“I think I learnt a lot about myself at the games and giving the state of the world right now, especially with Covid, it was definitely different in the village so it was definitely not your traditional Olympic experience from what I would have heard but it was still a good time. I still managed to see a lot of people that I knew but overall, I think I take away a new sense of self given my performance and just the duration of my stay there,” he said.  Rai is the son of former West Indies and Antigua fast bowler Winston Benjamin and Gale Mason who now resides in the US, but is originally from the village of Newfield.

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