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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Olympian Derrick Mein ends U.S. men’s trap drought at shotgun worlds

Derrick Mein

Tokyo Olympian Derrick Mein became the first U.S. male shooter to win a world title in the trap event since 1966, prevailing at the world shotgun championships in Osijek, Croatia, on Wednesday.

Mein, who grew up on a small farm in Southeast Kansas, hunting deer and quail, nearly squandered a place in the final when he missed his last three shots in the semifinal round after hitting his first 22. He rallied in a sudden-death shoot-off for the last spot in the final by hitting all five of his targets.

He hit 33 of 34 targets in the final to win by two over Brit Nathan Hales with one round to spare.

The last U.S. man to win an Olympic trap title was Donald Haldeman in 1976.

Mein, 37, was 24th in his Olympic debut in Tokyo (and placed 13th with Kayle Browning in the mixed-gender team event).

The U.S. swept the Tokyo golds in the other shotgun event — skeet — with Vincent Hancock and Amber English. Browning took silver in women’s trap.

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Mo Farah withdraws before London Marathon

Mo Farah

British track legend Mo Farah withdrew before Sunday’s London Marathon, citing a right hip injury before what would have been his first 26.2-mile race in nearly two years.

Farah, who swept the 2012 and 2016 Olympic track titles at 5000m and 10,000m, said he hoped “to be back out there” next April, when the London Marathon returns to its traditional month after COVID moved it to the fall for three consecutive years. Farah turns 40 on March 23.

“I’ve been training really hard over the past few months and I’d got myself back into good shape and was feeling pretty optimistic about being able to put in a good performance,” in London, Farah said in a press release. “However, over the past 10 days I’ve been feeling pain and tightness in my right hip. I’ve had extensive physio and treatment and done everything I can to be on the start line, but it hasn’t improved enough to compete on Sunday.”

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

Sunday’s London Marathon men’s race is headlined by Ethiopians Kenenisa Bekele and Birhanu Legese, the second- and third-fastest marathoners in history.

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