Warholm and Benjamin breeze through to hurdles semi-finals

Doha (AFP) –


Defending champion Karsten Warholm and the man regarded as his greatest danger Rai Benjamin coasted to victory in their respective 400 metres hurdles heats on Friday at the World Athletics Championships in Doha.

Warholm -- who along with Benjamin are seen as threats to breaking Kevin Young's 27-year-old world record of 46.78 seconds after both cracked the magical 47 second barrier in Zurich last month -- timed 49.27 seconds.

The 23-year-old Norwegian -- who has caused a stir by declaring his role model is the immoral fictional financier Gordon Gekko the anti-hero of Oliver Stone's Wall Street films -- was not entirely content with his night's work.

"There were some mistakes so hopefully they are out of my system and I don't do any more," he said.

Benjamin, who has retorted that if Warholm is Gekko then he is the IRS (the Internal Revenue Service), also won his heat timing 49.62sec.

"I felt pretty good, I was just shaking the rust out as I have not run for a while," said Benjamin.

"I ran a pretty good race, I thought it went really and I am excited for tomorrow."

Benjamin, who is the son of former West Indies pace bowler Winston Benjamin, said he had not felt any nerves in what is his first senior global championships.

"I feel pretty good," he said.

"Having the USA on your chest takes you to another level.

"You cannot let down your team-mates.

"There were not that many people in the stadium but the atmosphere was still pretty good."

Home hope Abderrahman Samba, the man considered the potential fly in the ointment for the top two, looked impressive in winning his heat in 49.08 the fastest time of the five races.