EUGENE, Ore. — Oregon wide receiver and NCAA champion hurdler Devon Allen claimed his second U.S. national title as he won the men's 110-meter hurdles at Saturday's U.S. Olympic Trials before a home crowd at Hayward Field. He'll now head to the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Aries Merritt, the reigning Olympic champion, will not have a chance to defend his gold medal in the 110-meter hurdles less than a year after undergoing a kidney transplant.
Allen's 13.03 time was a personal best and secured his place on his first U.S. Olympic team. His 2016 season has been impressive after missing the 2015 outdoor campaign due to a knee injury he sustained while playing football. In June, he won the 2016 NCAA crown in 13.50 seconds.
Merritt finished fourth Saturday with a time of 13.22. Ronnie Ash and Jeff Porter nabbed the final two spots to the Summer Games.
In 2013, Merritt went to the hospital and was told by doctors that his kidney function was less than 15% because he was dealing with a collapsing form of Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis. He was told that he would need a transplant in May, but he decided to continue competing through August’s world championship in Beijing.
At the world championships, he went on to win bronze with a time of 13.04, his fastest time since setting the world record of 12.80 in 2012. After the race, he told reporters that his bronze medal was going to “shine brighter than my gold.”
Merritt had only raced three times before competing at this week’s trials. In May 2016, he suffered a groin injury unrelated to his kidney transplant. Merritt can still feel the effect of the transplant when he raises his trail leg (right leg).
On Wednesday, Merritt told reporters his doctors were concerned about him potentially competing at the Olympics due to the Zika virus outbreak. He still wanted to compete at the Olympics.
The toughest challenger for gold in the 110-meter hurdles in Rio hails from Jamaica in Omar McLeod, who has run five of the fastest times in the world this year, including a season’s best of 12.98. The United States’ 110-meter corps has medaled at every Olympics since 1984.