Meet the hurdler who won bronze just days before a kidney transplant

Katie Grant@kt_grant
Saturday 29 August 2015 12:30
sport

He looks like he's got a decent track record…

Aries Merritt outperformed his US teammates to scoop the bronze medal in yesterday's 110m hurdles at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing – just days before he was due to undergo a kidney transplant.

Shouldn't he be resting indoors?

"I am here in Beijing for mental sanity more than anything," Merritt told the BBC before the race. "I don't want to be sitting in my house cooped up in bed waiting for surgery."

Why does he need the operation?

The Olympic champion, who won gold for the 110m hurdles at the 2012 London Games, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder in 2013. When he was told he might never run again, his "whole world ended", the Chicago-born athlete said. "That I am here again running shows me that I'm a fighter and that I can overcome anything if I stay with a positive mind."

It seems his determination is paying off…

Merritt won his heat on Wednesday in 13.25 seconds, qualifying for Thursday's semi-final, which he completed in 13.08 seconds. He picked up the bronze medal in yesterday's final which he finished in 13.04 seconds, behind Russia's Sergey Shubenkov (12.98 seconds) and Jamaica's Hansle Parchment (13.03 seconds).

When will the surgery take place?

The runner is due to fly back to the US where he will receive a kidney from his sister during the operation on Tuesday. Merritt revealed dealing with his health issues had been "difficult". The 30-year-old said: "It hurts so much on the inside to know you are the best, but you're struggling with this illness and you are just trying to fight through."

Will this be his last race for a while?

The athlete will, of course, need time to recuperate following the major surgery, but he was adamant this would not be the end of his career and said he hoped to defend his Olympic title in Rio next year. "I love running. I love competing. This is my life and here I am," he said.

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