My first interview with Rai Benjamin was after the 2019 World Championships, where Rai took the silver in the 400m hurdles and gold in the 4×400 meters. His story there was fascinating. He had endured some injuries, and he somehow made it to Doha in one piece and competed to the best of his ability.
This interview was done in March 2023. As in the past six pre-pandemic years, Global Athletics & Marketing had the forethought to put together a couple days of interviews for some of the track & field’s global media. Twenty-six athletes gave interviews to a group of new, veteran, and not-so-veteran media. Some media were preparing for text stories, audio, and video, and some, like RunBlogRun, with a combination of presentations.
RunBlogRun sincerely believes that a media rich in diversity is key to the success of our sport. For example, the various approaches to bespoke track meets during the pandemic and the incredible diversity in the streaming video have enriched our sport.
Rai Benjamin takes the 400m hurdles, in 47.04, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, June 23-26, 2022, photo by Kevin Morris
RunBlogRun has been, since 2006, most fortunate to work with over 40 writers and photographers, bringing new views into the sport, but also on a platform that gives the most enthusiastic of media a global platform.
We are not People magazine. We do not track gossip; we use social media to share our stories, photo galleries, and commentary on the sport.
In that light, we ask you to watch the interview of Rai Benjamin.
On March 8-9, 2023, I interviewed 25 athletes from Global Athletics. You will begin to see them pop up on our sites, FB, Twitter, and IG. We will provide video versions, audio versions, and text versions. Why? Because our readers digest media in diverse manners, even on the same day.
Rai Benjamin has had a busy three years. When I spoke with Rai in March 2023, we had not chatted since 2019. I asked Rai to provide some context about the Tokyo 2021 Olympics, the Eugene 2022 World Championships, and his current state of health and fitness.
What resulted is one of the most poignant and honest interviews I have witnessed in my nearly 40 years as a journalist.
My interviews are quite organic. I use a method known affectionately as the Brian Lenton method. Brian is a fine Australian journalist who captured the golden era of Australian marathoning: Chris Wardlaw, Rob De Castella, Steve Monaghetti, as well as John Landy, Ron Clarke, Brendan Foster, and Bill Rodgers, among others. In most interviews, Lenton threw a six-pack of an adult beverage on the table, and the talk went where it went.
Rai Benjamin, silver medal, 400m hurdles, World Athletics Championships
Eugene, Oregon, USA
July 15-26 2022, photo by Kevin Morris
I should call my method the evolved Lenton method. No booze, and yes, tons of reading prior to the interview, but the interview grows organically. In this case, with Rai, he is obviously comfortable with an interview. Rai knows I love the sport, and he knows the questions will have him approach an event in a different way, perhaps than he has before.
My plan was to try and appreciate the challenges presented to Rai Benjamin in 2021 and 2022 with illness, injury and the challenges of being one of the two finest athletes in the world in your event.
In one of the questions, you may find it a bit garbled. The truth is this, Rai was so honest, and this writer found that to be a very emotional experience. Honesty, in this day and age, is not commonly found. In this writer’s estimation, Rai Benjamin is on a journey to see just how good he truly is, and that has nothing to do with his best 400-meter hurdle time.
I believe that it is one of Rai’s best efforts.
Enjoy the interview. When an athlete and a writer can combine for a common goal, that is, for this writer, like running a near-perfect race.
I have to be honest with you. My observation of Rai Benjamin is this. In his own time, he will become the finest 400-meter hurdler the world has ever seen. But, it is his journey.
And he has many ten-hurdle races (to paraphrase poet Robert Frost) to go before he sleeps.
I met with Rai Benjamin right after his 400-meter hurdle race in Doha, Qatar. Catching his breath, Rai told me, ” Look, I have just had COVID again, I took a week off, and I am jet lagged.” He ran a 47.78 to hold off a PB running CJ Allen, who ran 47.93.
“I will be racing the LA Grand Prix in three weeks and hope to run much faster.”
And that is why I am on a plane on May 24 to watch the USATF LA Grand Prix.
I want to see Rai Benjamin run very fast over the 400-meter hurdles.
Special thanks to Mike Deering for the post-interview production of the Interview.