Grant Holloway celebrates winning gold in the men's 110-meter hurdles final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 on Oct. 2, 2019 in Doha, Qatar.
Welcome to the big leagues, Grant Holloway.
The 21-year-old who was still running for the University of Florida earlier this year won the gold medal in 110-meter hurdles at the IAAF World Championships on Wednesday with a time of 13.10 seconds.
“I’m not worried about the time,” Holloway said. “My goal was just to execute each and every round, come out here with a smile on my face and do what I had to do.”
Holloway faced competition in the form of reigning Olympic gold medalist Omar McLeod of Jamaica, but Holloway went out in front from the very start and never relinquished his lead. McLeod, who’s struggled the past two years with injuries, coaching changes and up-and-down performances, challenged for a moment but stumbled down the stretch and finished in last place.
McLeod veered into Spanish hurdler Orlando Ortega’s lane and they collided, with Ortega eventually finished fifth.
Holloway said he wasn’t aware of the chaos behind him. “My lane, my space, my hurdles,” he said.
Holloway said in a post-race interview that he stayed calm throughout the race.
“A lot of people in my close circle talked to me about staying calm and I came out here stress-free,” he said. “Every time I finished a race I was smiling. There was no point in that 13-second race where I was trying to gut something out or figure something out.”
Authorized neutral athlete Sergey Shubenkov took the silver medal with a time of 13.15 seconds and France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde took bronze in 13.18 seconds.
The last time the U.S. had a world champion in the 110-meter was David Oliver in 2013. Aries Merritt won a bronze medal in 2015 but the U.S. was blanked at the 2017 world championships.
The U.S. also failed to medal in the event at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
Asked if he would return them to the podium in 2020, Holloway answered, “Most definitely. Hold me to it. Hold me accountable.”
But he’s not quite ready to start thinking about Tokyo. “Not yet,” he said. “I’m going to go home, shower, find some food before I start thinking about Tokyo.”
Holloway made his Diamond League debut in Paris this year not long after three-peating for the NCAA championship in 110-meter hurdles while at Florida. His time of 12.98 seconds at this year’s national championships broke a 40-year-old NCAA record.
So, what’s it like to be an NCAA champion and now a world champion? “Um, ask me that in about a week and I’ll let you know,” Holloway said. “But right now, I shouldn’t be holding up this flag. I shouldn’t be holding up this medal. It all goes to my inner circle for this meet.
“Who gets the medal? They’re going to have to split it off in like five ways – they get a slice, we get a slice, they get a slice…”
Reigning U.S. national champion Daniel Roberts, also 21 and fresh off his college career, was disqualified earlier in the week. Roberts won his heat but clipped his neighbor’s hurdle after hitting his own toward the end of the race. The U.S. did not appeal.
Devon Allen, 2016 Olympian and the three-time U.S. champion, finished seventh with a time of 13.70 seconds.