EUGENE, Oregon - Aries Merritt, a former Texas A&M volunteer coach who trains in College Station, won the 110 hurdles in a career best time of 12.93 seconds during Saturday's action at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Hayward Field.
"I wanted to win and I wanted to PR," stated Merritt, who just missed the Trials meet record of 12.92 set by Allen Johnson in 1996. "In the semifinal I wasn't quite all out, so I knew I had more left. I showed I had more left in the final by running my PR again.
"To break 13 seconds is a great accomplishment. American hurdling has stepped up and hopefully we can bring back some hardware from London."
In the women's 200 final Jeneba Tarmoh finished fifth in 22.35 while Allyson Felix broke the Olympic Trials meet record with a stunning 21.69 victory, taking down a 21.77 meet record held by Florence Griffith-Joyner in 1988.
"With everything that went on this week, actually being in the final wasn't that hard for me," said Tarmoh. "It's something I wanted from the beginning. I've been training for the 200 and I feel I'm a better 200 runner. What happened this week had no effect on me in this 200."
Finishing behind Felix in the women's 200 and making the London team were Carmelita Jeter (22.11), the 100 winner, and Sanya Richards-Ross (22.22), the 400 winner. NCAA champion Kimberlyn Duncan of LSU finished fourth in 22.34 while Tianna Madison finished sixth behind Tarmoh in 22.50.
Prezel Hardy, Jr. ran 20.72 for fourth in his semifinal heat of the men's 200 and did not advance on time. Hardy placed 10th among the 21 runners in the semifinal round.
The top qualifiers for the final included NCAA champion Maurice Mitchell (20.43), Isiah Young (20.45), Shawn Crawford (20.48) and Darvis Patton (20.50). Another heat winner was Wallace Spearmon, who eased through with a 20.59.
Merritt came into the meet with a 13.03 personal best from this season. In the semifinal of the hurdles today Merritt clocked a PR of 13.02 to win his heat. Jason Richardson followed with a 12.98 in the next heat.
With a strong start in the final, Merritt held an edge over the field throughout the race. Richardson challenged late and recorded another 12.98 as the runner-up while Jeffrey Porter claimed third in 13.08 over Antwon Hicks (13.14) and David Oliver (13.17).
"I'm stronger this season," noted Merritt. "I'm healthy and mentally fit. I'm just a better overall athlete. To get on a podium in London I need to run just like I ran these rounds here. I wanted to make a statement from round one and continue making statements through the semi. Then I was able to carry the rhythm through to the final."
Merritt's time is the world leader for 2012, moving ahead of a 12.97 by Liu Xiang of China. On the world all-time list Merritt equals the eighth best performer and is equal fifth best on the American all-time list.