In April 2013, RunBlogRun and the Shoe Addicts visited Aries, courtesy of the IAAF. Here are the two pieces we did on Aries, (http://www.runblogrun.com/2017/12/shoe-addicts-present-aries-merritt-a-day-in-the-life-courtesy-of-iaaf.html), and his training (http://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 rhythm 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 (http://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 rhythm. 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 hesitation 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.
And always remember to check out www.wicbirmingham2018.com
Bio on Aries Merritt (from IAAF): https://www.iaaf.org/athletes/united-states/aries-merritt-200563