For the fifth time in six races this season, the 22-year-old Qatari produced a world-leading performance in the 400m hurdles. But in his latest, a blazing 46.98 run at last night’s Meeting de Paris IAAF Diamond League fixture in the French capital, Samba became just the second man to ever breach the event’s 47-second barrier, leap-frogging among others Edwin Moses, widely considered the finest 400m hurdler of all time. Suddenly, Kevin Young’s 46.78 world record, set at the 1992 Olympic Games, three years before Samba was born, no longer seems that far out of reach.

Checkout his race here.

“It definitely did not feel like I ran under 47 seconds today,” Samba said. “I made a small mistake at the start, lost my balance on the first hurdle so I did not expect to run so fast.”

If it did throw him off, Samba hid it well. He regrouped quickly, running almost stride-for-stride alongside early leader Kyron McMaster, the 2017 IAAF Diamond League champion, as the pair, along with world champion Karsten Warholm, reached the race’s midway point.

Then, Samba once again illustrated his late-race strength, pulling into the lead as the pair entered the final bend and took the penultimate hurdle. Samba padded his margin with every stride. By the time McMaster crossed the finish with a 47.54 British Virgin Islands record, Samba was already howling with joy after glancing at the clock and seeing the number 46 staring back at him. Panting, he dropped to his knees to kiss the track before resuming his celebration.

“I think now anything is possible,” said Samba. “I’m coming more close to the world record. I’m working very hard on that. But right now,” he added, “I’m speechless.”

Samba will next race at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Lausanne on 5 July when he will once again take on world champion Warholm. And it is surely just a matter of time before he faces collegiate star Rai Benjamin, who earlier this year moved to second on the world all-time list before being leap-frogged by Samba.

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