With a new kidney, Aries Merritt seeks gold repeat in hurdles in Rio

EUGENE, Ore. -- Gold medal hurdler Aries Merritt did not run his best race in the 110-meter heat Friday at the U.S. Olympic track and field trials -- he clipped four hurdles -- but at least he qualified for the next round.

"It felt very easy. There was a lot of wind today so I was making a lot of mistakes,'' Merritt said. "Other than that it was a solid round. I did what I needed to do to make it the next round, so I'm happy about that.

The 2012 gold medalist and world-record holder in his event, Merritt is coming back from a kidney replacement in September that kept him off the track for a couple months.

Even when he came back, he was able to run only a few races this year and still is working himself back into top form.

"I hit a lot of hurdles, like four and I'm not the type who hits the barrier, but it is what it is,'' he said. "I'm into the next round, so I have another round to clean it up and hopefully in the final I can do something magical.

"It just feels good to be back here competing. Hopefully tomorrow will be better now that all the jitters are out.''