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Olympic 400m Hurdles Race Shrouded In Controversy Over 'Super Spikes' Which Are Like 'Trampolines'

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Olympic 400m Hurdles Race Shrouded In Controversy Over 'Super Spikes' Which Are Like 'Trampolines'

The men's 400m hurdles final was box office entertainment, leading for many fans to already dub it "the race of the century".

It saw Karsten Warholm absolutely shatter the world record, clocking a blistering time of 45.94 - 0.76 seconds quicker than the previous record.

To put it in perspective, he actually ran faster than 23 other Olympians who did the 400m without hurdles earlier that day.

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But while the athletes themselves are clearly in tip top condition, it seems some people think they might be getting a little helping hand from elsewhere.

United States runner Rai Benjamin also broke the previous record, clinching silver just behind Warholm.

But the Olympic gold medallist and new record holder has taken aim at Benjamin's 'super spikes', labelling them "B***s***".

Credit: PA
Credit: PA
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"If you put a trampoline there I think it's b***s***," Warholm said.

"I think it takes credibility away from our sport. I don't see why you should put anything beneath a sprinting shoe."

What Warholm is referring to is Benjamin's Nike 'super spikes' which reportedly feature an air bubble or pod inside the shoe's sole which allegedly provides extra bounce.

Interestingly, Benjamin's shoes do play by the rules set out by the sport's governing body World Athletics - although those guidelines are being continually amended.

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Upon hearing the criticism coming from his rival's mouth, the American wasted no time in hitting back.

"People say it's the track, the shoes... I'll wear different shoes and still run fast. It doesn't really matter, in all honesty, at the end of it," Benjamin said.

"I mean, there's some efficiency in the shoe, don't get me wrong, and it's nice to have a good track but no one in history is going to go out there and do what we just did just now, ever.

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"I don't care who you are, it could be Kevin Young, Edwin Moses... all respect to those guys, but they cannot run what we just ran just now."

Rai Benjamin. Credit: PA
Rai Benjamin. Credit: PA

Rather ironically, though, Warholm has also tapped into advanced technology himself in order to get an edge come competition time.

According to the Norwegian, he has teamed up with Mercedes' Formula One team and his shoe manufacturer Puma to get the best results possible.

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"What I can say about the shoes that I've been developing in a collaboration between Puma and the Mercedes Formula One team is that we're trying to make it as credible as it can be," Warholm added.

"Yes, we have the carbon plate but we have tried to make it as thin as possible because that's the way that I would like to do it.

"Of course, technology will always be there but I also want to keep it down to a level where we can actually compare results. That's important."

With the emergence of this new-found technology, Usain Bolt's seemingly-untouchable records on the track now look - well - touchable.

But not everyone is convinced that the sheer athleticism of the competitors is the (pardon the pun) sole reason for this.

"Warholm is an amazing athlete but I think we've just seen the impact of technology right there," Matt Lawton of The Times tweeted.

"The shoes and a track that is apparently like running on air."

Another report from The Times suggests athlete spikes might not be the only determining factor during a hotly-contested race - the track itself also plays a big role.

"Mondo, who supply it (the track) and are able to measure such technological geekery as energy response and shock absorption, deem it to be the quickest in history," the report read.

"Then there are the 'super shoes', which are undoubtedly having an effect on times across all distances.

"But a fast track and quick shoes are nothing without a supremely talented athlete to make use of them. Warholm is one of the greatest the sport has ever seen."

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: olympics, Tokyo Olympics, Technology, Nike, Australia

Max Sherry
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