Before bending down on the heels, the usual routine, strong slaps on the face and on the thighs that leave the skin red and sore, an activation technique that many athletes use and that, according to some studies, always reports a few hundredths of advantage. , and up to tenths. Then, from the tacos, sudden exit. Reaction time: 145 thousandths, extraordinary, at the level of a 100m or 200m sprinter (Marcell Jacobs reaction time in the 100m final: 160 thousandths).
Later, a seen and not seen. Puma EvoSpeed Future Faster spikes with a carbon plate developed by engineers from the Mercedes Formula 1 team. No light foams, like those of the competition, no encapsulated air, no springs, a technology that devastates and that the Norwegian Karsten Warholm dislikes, who breaks the world record of the 400m hurdles (45.94s). “If you run on a trampoline, it’s rubbish, it takes away from athletics credibility,” he says. “I understand foam in mid-distance or distance races, foot pads, but never in speed.” The Brazilian Alison dos Santos, the bronze medalist, also ran with more or less traditional shoes (an Adidas Adizero Finesse Tokyo), while the second, Rai Benjamin, wore one of the magic foams, a Nike Air Zoom Maxfly. Trampolines on a Mondo track that some specialists in turn qualify as a trampoline, due to the amount of energy it returns with each step, and its low absorption. “Yes, it is very fast,” says Benjamin. “But whoever comes, whoever, let Kevin Young or Edwin Moses come, I respect them, but they sure don’t run like we have run now.”
The Italian manufacturer in Alba, Piedmont, of the synthetic material for the track, says that it spent three years researching and experimenting with different types of rubber until it found the surface that athletes liked the most, and added special granules to achieve the maximum energy return, 2% more than the blue model of Tokyo. And athletes say that more than running, they bounce.
And 45.94s later, a world record that is announced eternal and a coach, Leif Olav Alnes, 64, with his pulse unleashed. There is no more obvious symptom, say those who know the emotional coldness of the coach who has trained Warholm for six years, an iceberg. “This is the first time in my life that I have seen him with tachycardia,” jokes Warholm. “I think in a way today I was a bit impressed.”
Another sign that the 400m hurdles of Tokyo 21 can be considered as the mother of all races: the role of Rai Benjamin, the 25-year-old New Yorker who finished second, the athlete who, as he quickly titled the Wall Street Journal, he had broken a world record and lost a race. “If someone had told me before that I was going to run in 46.1s and I was going to lose, surely I would have punched him well and kicked him out of the room,” laments the athlete who, if Kevin’s prophecy is not fulfilled. Young that he was prepared to come down from the 46s, will go down in history as the greatest loser ever known. Almost like the Carl Lewis of the long jump competition defeated in the World Cup in Tokyo 91 by Mike Powell who set the world record in 8.95m. And Benjamin would have been helped in the task by Brazilian Alison dos Santos (46.72s), who also beat Kevin Young’s Olympic record, a world record until last July.
More signs of the extraordinary. According to the international federation’s table of records, only the 9.58s and 19.19s of Usain Bolt’s 100m and 200m records in Berlin 2009 are worth more than the 45.94s of the Norwegian. Compared to the other race distances, Warholm scores much more: equivalent to 42.75 in 400m (current record 43.03s), 12.56s in 110m hurdles (12.80s), 1m 39.79s in 800m (1m 40.91s), at 3m 23.39s in 1,500m (3m 26s), at 7m 42.59s in 3,000m obstacles (7m 53.63s), at 12m 25.21s in 5,000m (12m 35, 36s), 25m 50.26s in 10,000m (26m 11s) and 2h 20s in marathon (2h 1m 39s).
The rest was put by the athletes, their technique and their speed, their desire, and the heat and humidity of the Tokyo atmosphere charged with electrical particles after the storms that drench it daily. Michael Johnson 76 hundredths less than his previous world record, three-quarters of a second, one world, hallucinates too. “45.94s!” Tweets the Texan athlete who for years held the world records of 200m (19.32s) and 400m (43.18s). That’s breaking your own world record by 0.76 seconds. “One of the most impressive brands in the history of sports!” And he did it in an Olympic final. As if not to accelerate the pulse of even the most serene.
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