Aries Merritt's hurdling career started on a dare. It took off with a technical change. And it peaked with a gold medal Wednesday night.
The 27-year-old Merritt led a 1-2 finish for the United States in the 110-meter hurdles at the London Olympics, winning in 12.92 seconds. World champion Jason Richardson was second in 13.04. Hansle Parchment of Jamaica took the bronze in 13.12.
Defending champion Dayron Robles of Cuba pulled up midway through the race, clutching his right hamstring.
Merritt and Richardson gave the US its first gold-silver finish in the event since 1996, when Allen Johnson and Mark Crear claimed the top two spots in Atlanta. No American had won gold since.
''I've worked so hard for this moment and who knows if I'll ever get this chance again?'' Merritt said. ''It's a once-in-a-lifetime moment and I'm just kind of living it. I'm the champion. It still hasn't sunk in yet that I'm Olympic champion. I'm still in shock.''
He should have seen it coming.