Reid: Hurdler Aries Merritt will try to defend his Olympic gold less than a year after kidney transplant

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