Comeback king Aries Merritt targeting first World Championship gold in 2017

Aries Merritt has had a tough couple of years.

08/04/2017 08:00

The American sprint hurdler had a kidney transplant in 2015 just days after claiming IAAF World Championship bronze and took most of 2016 to recover. But he is now returning to form and was third behind Andrew Pozzi in the Müller Indoor Grand Prix in February.

The finishing position, though, was not that important. It was all about getting another race under his belt.

Like all American athletes, he never takes selection for major championships for granted but London is firmly in his sights. “Assuming I get through US trials and get to London I would expect to win gold again,” he says.

“London is familiar to me. It is the place where I won my Olympic gold medal and the place where I want to win a World Championship gold medal.

“I have a number of medals in my arsenal but I do not have a world outdoor gold medal and what better place to get it? London is where I got my Olympic gold and hopefully where I will get my World Championship gold.”

He has great memories of London 2012. “The London Olympics for me was a fairy tale. I never imagined I would go 
to the Olympics the first time and win the gold medal. I was just blessed to be able to go out and run as fast as I did in my first showing.”

His memories of London extend beyond his own personal success. “The London Olympics as a whole was great, the crowds were great and it was a well organised meet,” he says. “The UK should be very proud of the Games they hosted.”

He actually feels that London hosting the championships will increase his chances of success. “London is a place where the people are friendly, the atmosphere is nice, where people like to see you run, compete and do well. People actually care about the sport. All the years I have accumulated a mass of fans there so London is like a second home for me.”

Coming back to elite level after major surgery is impressive, and as he said in Birmingham: “The motto of London 2012 was ‘inspire a generation’. I think I have done that.”

Article first appeared in Athletics Weekly magazine.