Aries Merritt of the U.S. competes in the men’s 110m hurdles event at the IAAF Diamond League athletics meeting, also known as Memorial Van Damme in Brussels September 7, 2012. Merritt sets a new world record of 12.80 seconds (REUTERS/Laurent Dubrule)
By Robert-Jan Bartunek
BRUSSELS, Sept 7 (Reuters) – Olympic champion Aries Merritt of the United States broke the world record in the 110 meters hurdles while Jamaicans Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake won their sprints in the final Diamond League meet of the season on Friday.
Merritt clocked 12.80 seconds, beating the mark of 12.87 set in 2008 by Cuban Dayron Robles, achieving a season-long obsession in his last race of 2012.
“My vision was, if I did break the world record, to run 12.85. 12.85 is all over my everything. It’s in my email, it’s the password for my phone,” he said.
The 27-year-old, who has talked in recent weeks of his desire to break the record, has dominated the event this year, with the most sub-12.95 seconds performances in a single season.
“I was just trying so hard that I thought ‘I can’t do it’,” he continued, adding he had put the world record out of his mind before Friday’s race.
Merritt, who said he got into hurdling after a friend dared him to jump a fence with the high school coach watching, said he had one remaining task before packing his bags for home – to change the pass code for his mobile phone.
Triple Olympic champion Bolt, who shattered the 200 meters meet record at the previous Diamond League event in Zurich, pulled away towards the end of the 100, crossing the line in 9.86 seconds which is a modest time for him.
“I told my coach I felt lazy and drained,” Bolt told reporters. “I’m just happy as I’m injury-free.”
Bolt still planned a final night out in Brussels and was due to perform a DJ set in the early hours of Saturday, having splashed out on nine pairs of jeans earlier in the day.
“Partying is different. If you’re tired you can just sit down,” he said, before dancing before the crowd to a post-race Shaggy concert before embarking on a six-week break from athletics.
Compatriot and training partner Blake, who took silver twice behind Bolt in the sprints at this year’s London Olympics and clinched gold in the 4×100 relay, easily won the 200 meters after establishing a big lead on the bend.
Blake, who set a personal best and equaled the third-fastest time ever in the 100 at the Lausanne meeting in August, won in 19.54 seconds, the third fastest time this year.
In contrast to Bolt, Blake said he could keep running into 2013, although he will be heading back to Jamaica too – despite his jokey claims that he was not a mere earth human but from “somewhere in space”.
“I feel like I’m just starting. I feel I could go through until next year. I could do anything,” he said at the end of a “great year” with medals at his first Olympics.
“Next year it will be even better,” he promised, adding he too would be joining Bolt at the “Jamaica Party” though more as a dancer than a DJ.
Earlier on Friday, Kenya’s Emmanuel Kipkemei Bett ran the fastest 10,000 meters of the season in 26 minutes 51.16 seconds.