US sprint hurdlers Aries Merritt and Jason Richardson (© Getty Images)
US Olympians Christian Taylor, Jason Richardson, and Aries Merritt met with the press at Hayward Field after the morning session on Friday (25) at the IAAF World Junior Championships, Oregon 2014.
The three expect to compete in a one-hour “high performance” meeting to run after the close of Saturday’s competition at the championships.
Taylor, the 2012 Olympic triple jump champion, Richardson, the 2011 world champion in the 110m hurdles, and Merritt, the Olympic champion and world record-holder in the 110m hurdles, all competed at the World Junior or World Youth Championships.
Merritt was the 110m hurdles champion at the 2004 World Junior Championships, Richardson won the hurdles double at the 2003 World Youth Championships, and Taylor was a world youth triple jump champion in 2007 and world junior 4x400m champion in 2008.
“Just have fun,” Taylor said when asked about his advice to today’s junior athletes. “It’s so much fun to travel and compete with a team. You lose that at the professional level. If you’re not getting out and meeting people, it’s easy to find yourself alone in a strange city. You have to enjoy what you’re doing.”
“I was confused, I didn’t know what I was doing,” said Merritt about his junior memories. “I had to go back and look at the results to realise that Dayron Robles and Garfield Darien were in that race.”
“I remember pure and utter naiveté,” added Richards. “I was a crazy American thinking I could do it all. Since then I’ve had to work at approaching track with the same innocence I had when I was young, because in a way that’s the most interesting thing about sports.”
Both Richards and Merritt weighed in on Wilhelm Belocian’s world junior record of 12.99, which the French hurdler ran on Thursday. “The time doesn’t translate to the senior hurdle heights,” said Merritt.
“There are mechanical differences at the senior height, but the real signal is his willingness to get out and compete. France and Jamaica are in the race now,” added Richardson. “Anyone who comes out and adds to the talent level of the sport is welcome.”
Parker Morse for the IAAF