Rai Benjamin, third-fastest 400m hurdler ever, eligible to run for U.S.

Rai Benjamin
NBC Sports

Rai Benjamin, the joint-third-fastest 400m hurdler of all time, is now eligible to compete for the U.S. after the IAAF approved his nationality switch from Antigua and Barbuda.

Benjamin won the NCAA title in June in 47.02 seconds, then matching Edwin Moses as the second-fastest 400m hurdler ever. Only 1992 Olympic champion Kevin Young‘s world record of 46.78 seconds was faster. Benjamin lowered his personal best from 47.98.

Benjamin then turned pro following his junior season at USC. Meanwhile, Qatar’s Abderrahman Samba knocked Benjamin down the all-time list by clocking 46.98 later in June.

Benjamin and Samba have never gone head-to-head, and that matchup is among the most anticipated in the sport going into 2019.

Benjamin was born and went to high school in New York, and his dad was an international cricketer for Antigua and Barbuda. Benjamin said in June that he was in the process of trying to switch to the U.S.

The IAAF at the time had a freeze on nation transfers, so Benjamin was unable to compete at the USATF Outdoor Championships this past summer.

Now he’s eligible for the 2019 USATF Outdoors, where he will be a favorite to finish in the top three and make the world championships team. Samba would surely be waiting for him at worlds in Doha.

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