World record will drop - Merritt
André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
COLLEGE STATION, Texas:
World Record holder and Olympic champion Aries Merritt, believes that the expiry date on his own 12.80 seconds 110m hurdles record is fast approaching, warning that he is still hungry for success despite last year's all-conquering season.
Merritt will be walking around with a big target on his back this season, identifying Jamaican Hansle Parchment - the Olympic bronze medallist - as one of his main rivals.
Also, he believes competition in the event and regular races among the top tier will lead to a new world record sooner rather than later.
"(Hansle) Parchment is young and very gifted and he is, of course, the Olympic bronze medallist, so you know he is going to be there," said Merritt, as he predicted his perfect 2013 IAAF World Championships 110m hurdles final.
Cuban Orlando Ortega, Americans David Oliver and Olympic silver medallist Jason Richardson, and Russian national record holder Sergey Shubenkov were among the names mentioned by Merritt as likely finalists in the championships set for Moscow in August.
Merritt is the highlight of the IAAF's Day In The Life project, which brought a small group of selected journalists from around the world together.
"I think that the World Record will drop below 12.80," Merritt underlined. "This is a new era and a lot of people are running fast and a lot of people are working hard to break the record - this is the start of something big for sprint hurdling."
But the 27-year-old, who last year turned a career of unfulfilled promise into the most dominant display by a hurdler in history is clear: he remains hungry and motivated despite knowing that he is the target of many this year.
"I think that I still have a lot of things to do in my career. I have done the hardest things so far, but I still think I have a lot of things to accomplish in the sport. I still don't have an outdoor world title and I would love to get one of those this year in Moscow," Merritt said.
"I still don't have the most sub-13 performances ran by a human being - I have five more to go before I accomplish that, so there is always a goal and the goal this year is to try to run five sub-13 and then obviously try to win the World Championships and after that it's just about having fun. Once I'm having fun I will run fast," he added.
"Last year, I didn't have any titles, I was just enjoying myself. This year, I am going to try to do the same, even though the target is on my back," said the Atlanta Falcons and Boston Celtics fan.
Merritt, who was still learning a new seven-step approach last season, also feels that he could have run a much faster time in that World Record-breaking effort in Brussels last year.
"There are two major points where I messed up in that race. Looking at it in slow motion with my coach, who of course dissected it, my start wasn't as ballistic as it needed to be. I didn't want to false start so I told myself I was going to sit in the blocks because I wanted to ensure I got that eighth sub-13 time and set the record," said Merritt.
"I also floated the last hurdle because they were coming so quick and I had to adjust and ended up going way over that last hurdle compared to the others. That could have been a 12.7 run, but you never know."