Warholm throws down gauntlet to hurdles rival Benjamin

Doha (AFP) –


Rai Benjamin threw down the gauntlet to Norway's 400 metres hurdles world champion Karsten Warholm on Thursday declaring "If Karsten is Gordon Gekko then I am the IRS."

Warholm has cast himself as Gekko -- the immoral financier played by Michael Douglas in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" films whose motto was "greed is good" -- adding further spice to one of the most eagerly anticipated events at the World Athletics Championships whose heats gets underway in Doha on Friday.

Indeed the 27-year-old world record in the event, held by Kevin Young, is seen to be under threat after Warholm and Benjamin produced one of the races of the season at the Diamond League in Zurich in August with both going under the magical 47-second barrier.

Benjamin, son of former West Indies cricketer Winston Benjamin, was second best to Warholm in Zurich but he did not flinch when asked by AFP what film character he saw himself if the Norwegian cast himself as Gekko.

"I saw that quote about greed," Benjamin said.

"If he is Gordon Gekko then I am the IRS," referring to the US Internal Revenue Service.

The personable and quick-witted Benjamin, who believes the US trials is the ideal dress rehearsal for the world championships as they have the same format of heats, semi-finals and final, says his father is comfortable with his decision to opt for track and field.

"My father is always there for advice and his prime counsel is trusting in myself," said the 22-year-old.

"He always provides good advice but he is not my coach (Olympic champions Quincy Watts and Joanna Hayes are his coaches) at the end of the day.

"However, I do take into consideration what he says."

- 'Ran out of real estate' -

Benjamin, whose father will not be present due to a mix-up over the issue of whether he needed a visa, spoke with Young after the race in Zurich.

Young -- who set the world record of 46.78 seconds when winning at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics -- has said he thinks both Warholm and Benjamin should not blast out of the blocks.

"That is how he (Young) ran -- he used to really get going after three hurdles," said Benjamin.

"Everyone has a different technique. Karsten runs hard the whole race, I run hard the last 200.

"There is no golden way and nothing written you need to run that way everyone is different.

"It is what works for you best it is not wise to change your race plan."

Benjamin says he learned a lot from the race in Zurich.

"I kind of lost awareness and where he (Warholm) was in the race," he said.

"I thought he was there (close to him) then I saw he was out there (far ahead) and from the fifth hurdle I closed a lot.

"However, I ran out of real estate. It was for me a poor race technically but I still ran a good time and so did he but he is relentless.

"I should be less conservative next time and not hold back as much as I did."

Benjamin, who had to bide his time waiting for clearance to represent the USA after competing for Antigua and Barbuda in the 2013 World Youth Championships, is mindful Qatar's Saudi Arabia-born Abderrahman Samba is also a major threat.

"There is talk about him being hurt and I am not entirely sure what is up," said Benjamin, who believes the winner will need to run under 46.9sec.

"I know he is doubling (Samba is also entered for the 400m flat) so I guess that means he is in shape.

"He is at home and that will play a huge factor in his performance as he won't want to disappoint the people."