Mount Vernon’s Rai Benjamin Wins 400m Hurdles at U.S. Olympic Team Trials

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Rai Benjamin, a 2015 Mount Vernon High School graduate and Olympic silver medalist, beat his own meet record for the 400m hurdles at the United States Olympic track and field trials on Sunday, June 30, 2024. He ran the hurdles in 46.46 seconds, beating his meet record of 46.83 seconds from the U.S. Olympic trials in 2021.

The UCLA Bruin alumnus Rai Benjamin has punched his ticket to the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, placing first in the 400m hurdle finals at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Eugene, Ore., Sunday. Benjamin posted a meet record and world-leading time of 46.46 at Hayward Field (see video below).

Benjamin was a three-time New York State Public High School Athletic Association champion at MVHS. The Mount Vernon native also ran track and field at the University of Southern California and the University of California, Los Angeles.

Benjamin won the silver medal in his first Olympic Games in 2021 in Tokyo, and now he will try to achieve gold in Paris, with the Olympics beginning on Friday, July 26. While he was able to beat his Olympic trials record, Benjamin gave his race a “C-plus” and will look to improve on his time on the big stage.

Rai Benjamin, born in the Bronx on July 27, 1997 and raised in Mount Vernon is a professional hurdler and sprinter specializing in the 400 m and 400 m hurdles. He is the second fastest man in history in the 400 m hurdles with a personal best time of 46.17 s. Benjamin won silver medals at his first Olympic Games in 2021 and at the World Championships in 2019 and 2022 in the men’s 400 m hurdles, and gold medals in the 4 × 400 m relay in 2019 and 2021.

In college, Benjamin ran for the UCLA Bruins and then the USC Trojans, where in early 2018 he was part of the team that set the world best time in the indoor 4 × 400 m relay with a time of 3:00.77. At the time, his relay split time of 44.35 s was the fastest ever recorded in an indoor race. In June of the same year he also helped set the NCAA record in the same event but outdoors, and ran what was at the time the second fastest 400 m hurdles race of all time in 47.02 s.

Rai Benjamin, a 2015 Mount Vernon High School graduate, just after completing his second year participated at the 2013 World Youth Championships held in Donetsk, Ukraine. He wanted to run for the USA, since he was born in New York, but in Donetsk he represented Antigua and Barbuda in the 400 m hurdles.

He won the 2015 New York Indoor State meet with a national-leading time of 33.17 in the 300 meters. He was a three-time New York State Public High School Athletic Association champion in the 400m hurdles. Benjamin won a silver medal in the 400 meters at the 2015 CARIFTA Games. He was the 2015 New Balance 400-meter hurdles national champion. He was the fastest 2015 prep time in the United States in the 400m hurdles with a time of 49.97, fastest 400 m indoor time in the country with a 46.59 and the third fastest outdoor time 46.19.

In 2017, the IAAF suspended all transfers of allegiance, meaning Benjamin could not represent the United States until transfers were reinstated in summer 2018. In October 2018, Benjamin’s transfer request was approved, allowing him to represent the United States abroad and compete in USATF Championship events.

At the 2018 Meeting Areva in Paris, he ran 19.99 in the 200 meters to take .65 of a second off his previous personal best. He became the 72nd person to break 20 seconds, in what is perhaps his third best event on the track.

At the 2019 Mt. SAC Relays, that year at El Camino College in Torrance, California, Benjamin joined his training partner and previous college teammate, Michael Norman running the 400 meters. Benjamin ran his personal best of 44.31, the 50th best time in history behind Norman’s 43.45, which turned out to be the fastest 400 run in the 2019 season and tied him as the 4th fastest of all time.

Benjamin won the silver medal in his first Olympic Games in 2021 in Tokyo, and now he will try to achieve gold in Paris, with the Olympics beginning on Friday, July 26. While he was able to beat his Olympic trials record, Benjamin gave his race a “C-plus” and will look to improve on his time on the big stage.

AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief and co-owner of Black Westchester, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Rap Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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