Beijimg: Olympic champion Aries Merritt stormed into the world 110 metres hurdles final with a gutsy display yesterday in his penultimate race before undergoing a kidney transplant next week.
USA's Aries Merritt (right) and Jamaica's Omar McLeod compete during the 110 metres hurdles semi-final heats yesterday. Pic/AFP
The 30-year-old American clocked a season's best 13.08 seconds to win his semi-final in the quickest overall time for today's final in Beijing, but he faces a tougher battle on September 1 when he undergoes surgery.
Russia's two-time European champion Sergey Shubenkov was second fastest in 13.09 with defending champion David Oliver joint sixth in 13.17 at the Bird's Nest stadium.
"I'm here for mental sanity more than anything," said Merritt, who ended 2012 with an Olympic gold medal and a world best time of 12.80, but a year later was told he may never run again after being diagnosed with a rare kidney disease.
"I don't want to be sitting in my house awaiting surgery. I'd rather be out living life to the fullest. Who knows, this could potentially be my last championship if surgery doesn't go well."
After struggling for most of 2013, Merritt's health deteriorated after the world championships in Moscow, his kidney function down to just 15 per cent when he checked into hospital before his weight also plummetted.