"I love the sport so that's what keeps me going," Rai Benjamin told PEOPLE before winning the final in the 400m hurdles at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials

By Lindsay Kimble and Glenn Garner
July 06, 2021 02:34 PM
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Rai Benjamin
Rai Benjamin
| Credit: Steph Chambers/Getty

Rai Benjamin is looking forward to showing the world who he is at the Tokyo Olympics, after qualifying in the 400m hurdles.

The New York-born sprinter, 23, told PEOPLE in a previous interview that although he can't be stopped on the track, he's much more relaxed in person.

"I feel like they're getting to see who I am as a person," Benjamin said of Olympic viewers. "I'm not going to say that I'm that much of a showy, flashy person, but I'm very chill."

"I kind of go out there do my little thing and then I compete and then that's it," he added. "But I feel like everyone will see that ... So I think a lot of people get to know me a little bit. It'll be great."

He also explained what motivates him to achieve greatness. "Not a lot of people get to experience this and just to have the ability to go to the Olympics and possibly win. It's just fantastic," said Benjamin. "I think that's what keeps me going all the time and also just to be the best I can be. That's what keeps me going."

"I wake up every morning and it's just like ... sometimes you're tired and you remember why you're doing it. It's just rad," he continued. "I love track too. So I mean that's also why I do what I do. Everything else aside, you know the photo shoots and stuff like that, deep down I really love the event. I love the sport so that's what keeps me going."

Rai Benjamin
Rai Benjamin
| Credit: Steph Chambers/Getty

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Benjamin recently triumphed at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials in Eugene, Oregon, where he won the final in the 400m hurdles with a time of 46.83 seconds, making him the third-fastest man in history in the event. He was a mere .05 seconds from breaking the world record set by Kevin Young in 1992.

Rai Benjamin
Rai Benjamin
| Credit: Andy Lyons/Getty

The USC alum is a shoo-in to bring the United States gold in his category, and he's already plotting his celebration: a trip to Bora Bora and the Maldives.

"I want to go for five days, four days and just shut off my whole social media and just kind of relax," Benjamin said. "And just have a good time. That's the one thing I'm looking forward to."

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit TeamUSA.org. Watch the Tokyo Olympics beginning July 23rd and the Tokyo Paralympics beginning August 24th on NBC.