Orange County Register | Scott M. Reid
|American sprint hurdler Aries Merritt is attempting to defend his gold medal at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro less than a year after receiving a kidney transplant. JAE C. HONG, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS|
LaToya Hubbard was waiting for her brother, Aries Merritt, when his plane landed at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International Airport late last summer.
Merritt was arriving after a long trip from Beijing but the hardest part of his journey was the less-than-30-minute drive he and Hubbard were about to make from Sky Harbor to the Mayo Clinic on the north side of Phoenix.
Merritt overcomes hurdles for a living. Some would say no one has ever been better at it.
In the summer of 2012, Merritt ran under 13 seconds in the 110-meter high hurdles seven times, winning the Olympic gold medal and then breaking the world record with a 12.80 clocking at Brussels’ Memorial Van Damme meet a few weeks later.
But now Merritt, 30, is attempting to clear the biggest hurdle of his career, one of the biggest to ever face an athlete in his sport – defend his gold medal at the Olympic Games less than a year after receiving an organ transplant. Continue reading