|The United States' Aries Merritt, right, defeats Hansle Parchment to win the 110m hurdles. (US Presswire)|
For American track connoisseurs, the 110-meter men's hurdles is one of the greatest, proudest events. Going back decades, the U.S. has always had a hand in the decision, or medal outcome, in the race at the Olympics. Consider: including this year's Games, 11 of the past 18 medals in the 110-meter hurdles gone to Americans.
But you know what eluded the USA for 16 years? A gold in the event. That drought ended Wednesday when Aries Merritt sped to a first-place finish. Teammate Jason Richardson, defending world champion in the 110, took silver.
The 27-year-old Merritt ran well in the lead-up to the race, and in fact was considered the favorite despite Richardson's win at the World Championships in 2001. Merritt's currently the No. 1-ranked hurdler in the world -- a ranking that will sit tight now -- and is also the world indoor champion in the short-distance hurdles (60 meters). Merritt's medal-taking time came in at 12.92 seconds, a personal best.
Richardson, 26, crossed in 13.04, while Hansle Parchment got there in 13.12, good for a Jamaican record and for a bronze.
Merritt burst out of the blocks and had the lead 20 meters in. He never relinquished it. Cuba's Dayron Robles, the gold medal winner in this event at Beijing, pulled up lame in the race and did not finish.
The race keeps the U.S. in the hunt for the overall and the gold medal chase, too. Plus, prior to this race, the U.S. had not taken gold and silver in one track or field event.