Former Tennessee standout Aries Merritt (Bryan, Texas) has been named USA Track & Field’s Athlete of the Week after smashing the world record in the 110-meter hurdles at the Brussels Diamond League meet last Friday in a time of 12.80.
Merritt dominated a loaded field to better Cuba’s Dayron Robles previous world record of 12.87 ran in 2008. It was the biggest drop in the world record since Renaldo Nehemiah dropped .16 seconds off the mark in 1979.
“This is a dream season for anyone because I don’t think anyone has done this before,” Merritt said on a USATF media teleconference the evening after his performance. “I’m still pretty much in shock. I knew it was going to happen but I didn’t think it would be under 12.90.”
Merritt’s world record performance punctuated an outstanding year that saw him win Olympic gold and claim the top seven times run in the world this year. Merritt’s season ended with a winning streak of 13 races. For the 2012 season, Merritt won 17 of the 21 races he lined up for since January and his eight sub-13-second races were the most ever in a single season.
Now in its 11th year, USATF’s Athlete of the Week program is designed to recognize outstanding performers at all levels of the sport. USATF names a new honoree each week and features the athlete on www.usatf.org. Selections are based on top performances and results from the previous week.