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Westchester HS Grad Wins Silver Medal At Olympics

Rai Benjamin starring while sttill at Mount Vernon High School. Photo Credit: Contributed
Rai Benjamin Photo Credit: Team USA

It took a world record-breaking effort to keep a former Hudson Valley high school track standout from the top of the podium at the Tokyo Olympics in a race for the ages.

Both Norway’s Karsten Warholm and the United States’ Rai Benjamin, a Mount Vernon High School star athlete in Westchester, broke the previous world record in the 400-meter hurdle, though the Hudson Valley native found himself coming up just short against his nemesis.

Warholm finished with a 45.94 mark, breaking the world record he previously set of 46.70. Benjamin also crushed the previous record, finishing with a 46.17 to take the silver medal. Alison dos Santos, representing Brazil, took the bronze with a 46.72 finish, also nearing the record.

Benjamin told reporters that he was in the race for the first half of the race, but lost his stride toward the latter third, and the minor mistakes may have cost him the gold.

“When you get to an event like this, you cannot manage to make mistakes like that because it costs you so much," he said. "It’s a lot to process.

“It’s a lot of things that I could have done differently, but at the same time how could you know? Never ran that fast before, so it’s just a matter of experience I would say.”

After the race, Benjamin called it the "best race in Olympic history,” calling the loss “the nature of the beast,” though his disappointment could be seen on screen.

“If you would’ve told me that I was going to run 46.1 and lose, I would probably beat you up and tell you to get out of my room,” Benjamin said after the race. “I’m happy to be part of history.”

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