Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
Olympics 110m hurdles champion and world record holder Aries Merritt believes that fast-rising Jamaican hurdler Hansle Parchment has all the qualities to rise to the very top of the event.
Parchment had a breakthrough-season, recovering from a 'so-so' start to claim bronze at the Olympic Games in London, and doing so in a new Jamaican record of 13.12 seconds.
The 22-year-old, who closed the previous season at the 13.24 mark, showed tremendous improvements throughout the year, with an early-eason gold-medal performance at the World University Games, a clear marker of the work that was being done under the direction of respected hurdles coach Fitz Coleman.
However, Merritt, who has had a vice-like grip on the event this season and cemented his reputation as one of the best sprint hurdlers in history, seems to be keeping a close eye on the powerful Jamaican, who he believes will significantly improve his time and continue to threaten, once he remains committed to the event.
"I think he (Parchment) did a great job this year for himself and for Jamaica, coming out and competing well, breaking the Jamaican record a couple times as well," said Merritt. "I think he is a good guy, he has good height and is a good competitor, so I think in years to come he is really going to be great, but the hurdles is a funny event."
Merritt, who led his countryman Jason Richardson and Parchment to the line in sprint hurdles finals in London in a personal best 12.92 seconds effort, underlined the importance of patience and experience, and encouraged the University of the West Indies student to keep putting in the work, if he hopes to achieve his potential.
"You never know when you are going to become great and really blow up, as you have seen with David Oliver and Jason Richardson and myself. We have been around but the nature of the hurdling is experience, and once you have gained that experience with the hurdles, then you will start to see the drop in your times," reasoned Merritt.
"What I'd say to him (Parchment) is just stay focused and stay hungry, because if you stay in the game long enough, you are going to run really fast eventually, that's how the hurdles work. It takes time and patience and diligence, but once you give everything out, everything will come in place for you," he further encouraged.
Male Athlete of the Year award
Merritt is among the three finalists for the IAAF Male Athlete of the Year award, which will be presented here on Saturday during the IAAF's Grand Gala and centenary celebrations.
Jamaican double Olympic champion and world record holder Usain Bolt, and 800m Olympic champion and world record holder David Rudisha are the other finalists.
The women's award will be decided between shot putter Valeria Adams, sprinter Allyson Felix and heptathlete Jessica Ennis.