Looking Back: Five Shots of Aries Merritt One Hour After His World Record

Aries Merritt after his 110m hurdles world record in Brussels, September 2012

Aries Merritt after his 110m hurdles world record in Brussels, September 2012

Three day ago marked the fourth anniversary of Aries Merritt’s sensational 12.80 world record in the 110m hurdles which he set at the 2012 edition of the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels. It was the last world record that I’ve personally witnessed, and it remains firmly etched in my mind: his blazing start, his acceleration over the first three hurdles, the massive lead he built by hurdle five. And the smile that wouldn’t quit about an hour after his race.

Here are five snaps I recently unearthed taken during his post-race press conference. For a quick look back, highlights from that press conference are here.

Aries Merritt after his 110m hurdles world record in Brussels, September 2012

Aries Merritt after his 110m hurdles world record in Brussels, September 2012

 

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Chicherova: ‘I want another chance to jump at 2.10’

Chicherova: ‘I want another chance to jump at 2.10’

Some thoughts from recently-minted Olympic high jump champion Anna Chicherova of Russia ahead of the Van Damme Memorial her last meet of the year here in Brussels. From the intro:

Anna Chicherova has just one wish prior to tomorrow evening’s Samsung Diamond League finale in Brussels: conditions similar to last year’s meeting which will allow her to once again challenge the World record.

“I hope that everything will be ok. I’ll be so happy if I have a chance to jump like last year, where I tried to jump 2.10,” the 30-year-old Russian said, speaking to a crowded press conference room this morning. “My shape is not so perfect, but I’ll try it. I’ll be very happy to have a chance to try it, to even reach that stage tomorrow.”

Chicherova fondly recalls last year’s Memorial van Damme competition, one she won at 2.05m before ending with her first-ever attempts at a would-be 2.10m World record. There wasn’t too much missing between her best attempts and the 2.09m standard that has stood since 1987.

“Before last year, I thought (the World record) was too high, too hard. But after last year I was so inspired with my attempts here. That gave me so much motivation for this year.”

But Chicherova now concedes that the ambitions spurred on by those leaps in Brussels contributed to a classic case of “overdoing it”, both in training and in competition which in turn led to injuries that dogged her much of this year. Upon reflection, she believes that it will be best to skip the next indoor season to avoid a replay of a same scenario.

“I must do something different for next year, because it caused me too many problems.”

Those problems, more specifically an injury that spread from one side of her back to the other, were very difficult to overcome as the London Games approached, she said.

“After (the World Indoor Championships in) Istanbul everything changed,” she said, referring to when the stubborn back pains began. “I had more difficulties. The injury I had there changed everything. I didn’t think that my Olympic preparation would be so hard. To tell you the truth, I can’t understand how (the Olympic victory) even happened.”

Inconsistencies in training and competition, coupled with the unpredictable back pains, often left her in tears and her characteristic self-confidence in tatters.

“It was so hard,” she said. “I was crying a lot. I had no confidence like last year. (London) was the first time that I was scared and nervous before a qualification round.”

The rest for the IAAF.