The United States finished 1-2 in the men’s 110-meter hurdles Monday, with David Oliver taking the gold at the world championships.
Oliver won in 13.00 seconds, the fastest time of the year.
Ryan Wilson took silver in 13.13, and Sergey Shubenkov of Russia crossed ahead of defending champion Jason Richardson for bronze. Shubenkov finished in 13.24, and Richardson timed 13.27 after stumbling at the final hurdle.
Olympic champion Aries Merritt was sixth.
For years, injuries have halted Oliver in the hurdles. For years, he’s struggled to find his rhythm. It all came together when he finished just ahead of Wilson.
Had it not been for a trip over the final hurdle, defending champion Richardson could have grabbed the last spot on the podium. But his stumble opened the door for Shubenkov to slip into the third spot — much to the delight of the Moscow crowd.
"This feels great, man, coming out here and finally performing well again," said Oliver, a former football player at Howard University. "I was tired of being injured. I was tired of failing. I was tired of running like a donkey. It’s just not good when you’re not winning."
Oliver’s technique is like this: He attacks hurdles like a football player would, trying to clear them and punish them at the same time. It works. The hurdles almost bow in fear when the 6-foot-2, 205-pound Oliver comes barreling by.
Hard work has been Oliver’s calling hard. A calm injury hampered him at Olympic trials last season and prevented him from making the U.S. squad for London.
Oliver decided to do things differently. No more weightlifting for the big and strong hurdler. No practicing on Wednesday, either. And, above all else, no more than four or five reps at anything he does on the track.
"I hit the reset button," Oliver explained. "With all those injuries, a lot of changes had to be made. Now, I can sit back and celebrate being a world champion."
Oliver’s already off to a solid start in that department. He celebrated near the track with his mother, a former 400 hurdler who was an aspiring member of the U.S. track team in 1980 when the Americans boycotted the Moscow Olympics.
That made the moment all the more meaningful.
"Every race is always dedicated to my mom," said Oliver, who won Olympic bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games. "She taught me everything I know. For them not to compete in the ’80 Games and she’s here in the stadium? Nothing better. Love sharing those moments with her."
After lunging across the finish line, Oliver let out a loud scream. All those injuries and all those setbacks seemed gone. Wilson sauntered up to congratulate his teammate. Then Oliver suddenly noticed on the scoreboard that Wilson, not Richardson or Olympic gold medalist Aries Merritt, was on the podium with him.
"He goes, ‘Oh, I didn’t know it was you.’ He was so excited," Wilson recounted. "I couldn’t have lost to a better competitor."