Originally written on Fox Olympics  |  Last updated 8/8/12
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. Everyone else did, even his high school track coach about a dozen years ago. At the end of Merritt's freshman year at Wheeler High in Marietta, Ga., teammate and 2008 Olympian Reggie Witherspoon challenged him to jump a fence before practice. They didn't think anyone was watching. ''It was just a random dare,'' Merritt recalled. ''We got there kind of early from class. He said, 'I bet you won't jump that fence.' I was like, 'I can jump that fence.' He was like, 'Nah, you ain't jumping it. You ain't jumping it.' I was like, 'All right.''' Merritt then ran up and cleared the fence, with his coach watching nearby. ''He was like, 'You're going to be a hurdler now,''' Merritt recalled. ''That's pretty much how it started.'' His coach, Chad Walker, clearly spotted something. Maybe it was the long strides. Maybe it was the smooth approach. Maybe it was the graceful leaping ability. Whatever the case, it eventually turned into Olympic gold. Merritt broke the 14-second mark as a senior, got a full scholarship to Tennessee and set several school and Southeastern Conference records. He thought his Olympic moment would come in Beijing in 2008, but his grandmother died before the US trials and he carried the heartbreak with him for some time. Making things worse, he pulled a hamstring and missed months of training. He finished fourth in those Summer Games. ''If you're not emotionally stable, you're not going to (win),'' he said. ''To wind up in fourth place was a blessing.'' Four years later, Merritt was on top of his game. He credits the ascent to a change with his start, a minor tweak that most outsiders would never even notice. He reduced his number of strides from eight to seven between the starting line and the first hurdle, a move that many elite hurdlers already had adopted.

GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Warren Sapp a suspect in domestic violence case

Phil Jackson surprised he didn't win Exec of Year award

Report: FSU-Bama game will start '17 football season

Alex Rodriguez cranks home run for career hit No. 3,000

Bucks in position to take next step forward

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Harbaugh: Ravens practicing illegal formations

WATCH: Jason Day has vertigo, collapses at US Open

Report: Cardinals began hacking Astros in 2012

Drew Brees donates $1 million to Purdue football program

Royals' Hosmer: It's crazy he leads Cabrera in All-Star voting

Former QB Terrelle Pryor willing to move to wide receiver

Foul ball guy Zack Hample caught A-Rod’s 3,000th hit

Minor league team cancels racist white heritage night

Report: Red Wings no longer interested in Dion Phaneuf

Do the San Francisco Giants have enough offense?

A proposal to fix MLB’s All-Star voting system

Has the UFC slipped in its matchmaking skills?

Offseason madness starts with the hope of the NBA Draft

Marshawn Lynch, Oakland native, on Warriors parade bus

WATCH: Tiger falls trying to retrieve ball from rough

The stunning demise of the 49ers' should've-been dynasty

JJ Watt’s breakfast consists of 10 eggs, pancakes and more

Eli Manning: Odell Beckham Jr. should lighten up over jokes

Track and Field News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

FSU-Bama game to start '17 season

A proposal to fix MLB’s All-Star voting system

Has the UFC slipped in its matchmaking skills?

JJ Watt’s breakfast consists of 10 eggs, pancakes and more

Using the media to negotiate in the NFL

The realities of player insurance in CFB and the NFL

Ten stories to follow in the NHL this summer

14 reasons to join the MLB season in progress

Is baseball ready for an openly gay player?

Amy Schumer consoles LeBron on Twitter after Finals loss

Should the Angels be better than this?

Trump compares Brady, Pats to China

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.