Aries Merritt's bid to win the world 110 metres hurdles title two years after undergoing a kidney transplant got off to a smooth start on Sunday.
Merritt breezes through heats in London
The 31-year-old American, whose sister LaToya donated a kidney to him days after he won world bronze in Beijing in 2015, cruised through his first round heat at the London Stadium where he won Olympic gold in 2012.
“My whole purpose in life is to inspire others and I hope everyone can take the lesson you can succeed if you put your mind to it”, Merritt said after his heat.
However, the world record holder has tough opposition barring his way including the man who succeeded him as Olympic champion Omar McLeod, who is intent on breaking Merritt's world mark but looked a little sluggish during the heats. “I was just playing it safe and saving myself for the final. I was just being race smart", he explained. “There is nothing wrong with my fitness. I am ready to go”.
Clement eases to win in 400m hurdles
Earlier American Kerron Clement opened his campaign for a third world title in the 400m hurdles easing home in 49.64sec but veteran Puerto Rican Javier Culson looked a shadow of the man who won two world silvers and an Olympic bronze finishing sixth in the same heat and failed to go through as a fastest loser.
Clement's chances of a third gold were enhanced considerably when the fastest man in the world this year Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands showed his inexperience in major events and was disqualified after finishing second in his heat.
McMaster, 20 and a truck driver in his spare time, was not the only one to fall foul of the race stewards as American Michael Stigler, second in the national trials, was also disqualified after initially qualifying in his heat. American athletics great Allyson Felix cantered home in her opening 400m heat, the 31-year-old defending champion bidding for a 10th world gold.