LONDON – Aries Merritt won an Olympic title in the 110 hurdles on Wednesday amid an American medal haul that included three golds and a total of seven medals in Olympic Stadium.
Texas A&M hurdler Wayne Davis II competed in the semifinals of the 110 hurdles, where he clocked 13.49 and placed sixth. Overall, Davis finished 17th among the 25 hurdlers. At 20 years old, Davis was the youngest competitor in the semifinal field.
With a career best time of 12.92 seconds, the second fastest ever in Olympic history, Merritt came within 0.01 of a second in breaking the Olympic record of 12.91 set by China’s Liu Xiang in 2004. Merritt won the first American gold in this event since Allen Johnson in 1996.
“This is the first year I haven’t had an injury,” noted Merritt, trains in College Station with Texas A&M assistant coach Vince Anderson and Aggie volunteer coach Andreas Behm. “Nothing ripped, nothing torn. Plus this is one of the first times I’ve been able to train consistently. I haven’t had that before. So, that’s been the key for my season.
“The gold medal means everything. The U.S. hasn’t won a gold medal in the 110 hurdles since Allen Johnson in 1996. It’s phenomenal. To be here in this atmosphere is really special.”
Jason Richardson claimed silver for the United States with a time 13.04 after winning the semifinal heat Davis ran in with a 13.13. In third place, with a national record, was Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment in 13.12. World record holder and former Olympic champion Dayron Robles was injured during the race.
An impressive campaign in 2012 has included U.S. Indoor and World Indoor titles over 60 meter hurdles as well as the U.S. Olympic Trials in the 110 hurdles. Recent consistencey with his times have elevated Merritt to an elite status. In his last four finals Merritt has recorded world-leading times of 12.93, 12.93, 12.93 and now a 12.92.
On the all-time world list Merritt shares the No. 6 position with Roger Kingdom and Allen Johnson. The American record of 12.89 and the World record of 12.87 are just fractions of a second away from his grasp. Merritt is also now equal No. 3 on the American all-time list.
“To run that time into a slight headwind is quite good,” said Merritt. “It’s good to pass the threshold of 13 seconds.
“I trained for this intensity. I thought if I treat it like a practice then I could do ridiculous things. I execute so well and when I practice there’s no pressure, so if I can treat the Olympic final like a practice, then there’s no pressure.”