This is the second week, first day of the Nike Talks World Indoors Series. Thanks to Nike Sports Marketing, @runblogrun will provide a Monday-Friday story on a key athlete from US, Great Britain, Europe, Africa and Asia. On the weekends, we will go back in World Indoor history and provide a favorite moment. This sponsorship goes from January1-March 5. We hope you enjoy. And please check out www.nikerunning.com. Remember to support our sponsors. They are supporting the heart of running.
Today, we are writing about 2012 Olympic champion and World Record Holder, 110m hurdles, Aries Merritt!
And always remember to check out www.wicbirmingham2018.com
I remember speaking to Aries Merrit just after he set the World record for the 110 meter hurdles in 2012 at the Van Damme Memorial. His time, 12.80 was a WR. . It was in the very last race of his season. The race before that, Aries got a bit excited and false started. Aries told me, that after the false start, he knew that he would be ready to run the WR in the next race. When I asked him what he had to do, Aries Merritt looked at me and noted, “it is all about the rythym.” Aries Merritt had also won the 60 meter hurdles in Istanbul, at the 2012 World Indoor Championships. His time, 7.44, was just ahead of China’s Liu Xiang and Frances’ Pascal Martinot Lagarde.
In 2012, Aries Merritt won gold in London and set the WR, how could one find a better season?
That is the connundrum of athletics. One knows when they are in fantastic shape, and one knows when they are oh so close.
In April 2013, RunBlogRun and the Shoe Addicts visited Aries, courtesy of the IAAF. Here are the two pieces we did on Aries, (https://www.runblogrun.com/2017/12/shoe-addicts-present-aries-merritt-a-day-in-the-life-courtesy-of-iaaf.html), and his training (https://www.runblogrun.com/2017/12/a-day-in-the-life-part-deux-aries-merritt-courtesy-of-the-iaaf.html). What impressed me about Aries Merritt? His attention to detail, his focus and his desire to excel.
In 2013, Aries was in good shape, but he was not all there. His rythym was just not there, and in the final in Moscow, he finished sixth. Something was wrong, and after being examined, it was determined that he was suffering from collapsing focal segmental glomerulosclerosis.
This disease, terribly rare, would haunt him for three years. In 2015, Aries Merritt fought back into shape, and took, somehow the bronze medal in Beijing 2015 World Championships. Never underestimate the work that Aries had to do, battling this painful kidney disease and trying to be a world class athletes. There had to be days that he wanted to just crawl up in a ball.
After the Beijing World Champs, Aries Merritt had a kidney transplant. His sister provided him the kidney. They had to go back into Aries Merritt to move his new kidney.
In 2016, the doctors were not fond of Aries racing and training. He nearly made the Olympics in 2016.
In 2017, Aries Merritt and I met in Birmingham, England at the NAI Stadium. In an interview posted here (https://www.runblogrun.com/2017/02/muller-indoor-diaries-2017-presser-with-aries-merritt-elaine-thompson-and-mo-faran.html), Aries Merritt reminded me that his race is all about rythm. But, most importantly, Aries told the media that everything was new, as he has now post kidney surgery records.
Aries Merritt told this writer then, that he wanted to return to Birmingham to race at the World Indoor Champs. In August 2017, Aries Merritt fought for a medal until the very last hurdle, where he faltered, and finished fifth. The level of competition is so tough in the 110 meter hurdles, that one step, one hesistation over a hurdle means one is out of the medals. 2011 World Champion Jason Richardson told us, years ago, that hurdlers may be the toughest and most competitive event on the athletic circuit. He may be right after all of these years.
This coming weekend, January 13, 2018, at the Washington Indoor Preview meeting, Aries Merritt will be racing the 60 meter hurdles to begin his 2018 campaign.
Watching the 2012 Olympic champion and WR holder compete is a true treat. Merritt has been racing himself back into shape for the past two years. He will be closer to his pre surgery fitness in 2018 than ever before. Will he medal in Birmingham in March 2018? We will just have to wait and see, but this man knows the hurdles, and he knows when to lean.
Bio on Aries Merritt (from IAAF): https://www.iaaf.org/athletes/united-states/aries-merritt-200563