Former West Indies fast bowler Winston Benjamin’s son Rai Benjamin has qualified for the Olympic Games scheduled to start next month in Tokyo, Japan.
Rai Benjamin is a hurdler who represents the American team. He created a stir after he was just 0.05 seconds shy of setting a new world record in the 400-meter hurdles at the United States Olympic track and field trials held at the Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon on Saturday.
While Rai Benjamin managed to secure his place in the USA's Olympic team by winning the final of the 400m hurdles in 46.83 seconds, the 23-year-old was just a whisker away from breaking his compatriot Kevin Young’s world record timing of 46.78, set at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics.
“It hurts a little bit to know that it was right there and I couldn't grab it. But it's just more fuel for the fire, man. It'll come when it comes,” the young sprinter was quoted as saying to Team USA official website after the race.
In his short career so far, Rai Benjamin has already shown glimpses of his potential after he won a silver medal at his first World Championships in 2019 in Doha in the men's 400m hurdles. He later bagged a gold medal in the 4×400m relay at the same competition.
Rai Benjamin has represented Antigua and Barbuda in international events. He has been turning up for the USA since 2019. Like his father, Rai grew up with cricket and wanted to become a batsman before he steered towards track and field events.
Rai Benjamin’s father Winston Benjamin terrorised batsmen in the 80s and 90s.
Born in Antigua, Winston Benjamin featured in 21 Tests for the West Indies cricket team from 1987 to 1995 where he picked up 61 wickets. He also played 85 ODIs to scalp 100 wickets.
"I never know why he chose track and not cricket. All I knew I would back him whatever he chose," the 56-year-old Winston Benjamin, now a coach, said about his son in an interview to Times of India.
"I am proud and happy that he is going to the Olympics. He has had good support from his mother. He had to battle hard to reach here. He is dedicated to the cause. Athletics is his chosen field and we tried to support him to the best of our ability," the former pacer added.
The Tokyo Olympics starts on July 23 and runs till August 8. Athletics will, however, begin on July 30 with the 400m finals scheduled on August 3 at the Olympic Stadium.
Featured photo: Twitter/USC Track & Field