The 110 hurdles is on of the most accomplished yet difficult events in track in field. It separates the sprinter from the all around track and field stars. Some of the greatest athletes in American history have starred in and dominated the event. From greats like Renaldo Nehemiah, Greg Foster, Allen Johnson set the bar high and the current Olympic champion and World Record Holder, 27-year-old Aries Merritt has come on the scene to raise to a height never matched before.
Aries gave BSO a few minutes of his time recently to Olympic medals, overcoming adversity, and being the best.
BSO: I see that you are from Georgia, what made you decide to go to Tennessee.
AM: They offered me a scholarship. No the program showed interest in me, I went for a visit, enjoyed myself and the rest is history.
BSO: So are you from Atlanta originally.
AM: No I was born in Chicago, but eventually moved to Marietta, Georgia, where I attended Joseph Wheeler High School.
BSO: How did you get started running the Hurdles.
AM: I was dared to jump a fence when I was younger.
BSO: What attracted you to the hurdles as a whole.
AM: The fact that you need speed and agility, as well as flexibility and grace to be successful. The finished product is a work of art. It’s a challenge and not something everyone can do.
BSO: Have you ever considered running the 100 or 200. I ran hurdles in high school, and it always surprised me that I was a pretty good hurdler, but not as good at just running flat-out sprints such as the 100 or 200.
AM: No I’ve never thought about running any of the regular sprints. The races use different muscles and different form. There is a certain form and discipline that it takes to run the hurdles. You use different muscle groups and fast twitch muscles in the process also. Even though the distance is the same in the 100 and 110, the preparation and practice is totally different.
BSO: Your collegiate career is outstanding, you broke Willie Gault’s hurdle record, were a seven time All-American, 2nd fastest collegiate time ever in the hurdles, yet your rise to success a professional would make it seem like you were a late bloomer considering you really didn’t jump on the radar until late 2010 early 2011. Do you mind explaining that?
AM: I would say that it was a lot of different circumstances that went into that. I was supposed to be a phenom when I turned pro in 2006. I think I got comfortable with a lot of the success I had in college. I was content and lackadaisical at times. It wasn’t until people who I was dominating in college started beating as a professional, that I decided I need to make changes and really focus. I missed the 2008 Olympic team by one place. Also my grandmother died in 2008, and she helped raise me and was responsible for a lot of the success that I had in my life, so that was really hard also. After my grandmother passed I felt I needed to get focused, changed coaches and made it a priority to be the best that I could be. I wanted to break world records, and dominate my sport.
BSO: How does it feel to be the Olympic record holder and World Recorder holder in 110 hurdles.
AM: It’s very satisfying, because I’ve accomplished everything In life I wanted.
BSO: What’s left for Aries Merritt, what does your future hold?
AM: I want to dominate, I want to be the best 110 hurdler to live.
BSO: Aries it was a pleasure my brotha, I appreciate you taking time out to speak with me. Much success in your future, and I’m now a big fan of yours.
AM: Appreciate you having me, god bless you, and have a good night.