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10 months after kidney transplant, Aries Merritt misses Rio place by an agonising 0.01 seconds

“Nothing can be worse than being told you’ll never run again, even if you come up short.”

ARIES MERRITT’S REMARKABLE Olympic dream came to a premature end last night as he missed out on Rio qualification in an agonising photo finish.

The American, who won 110m metre gold in London four years ago, needed to finish in the top three at the US Olympic trials — just 10 months after undergoing a life-saving kidney transplant.

But he was pipped at the line and finished fourth, losing out by a cruel 0.01 seconds.

A baffled Merritt, 30, believed that he had done enough to qualify and asked for the photo to be reviewed. Devon Allen, Ronnie Ash and Jeff Porter filled the first three places.

It was the end of a remarkable comeback from the world record holder, who received a new kidney in September last year just days after competing at the World Championships in Beijing where he claimed a bronze medal.

“For me to be where I am is a miracle,” he said.

“It’s a pity I’m not going to Rio because I know in six weeks time I’ll be in much better shape and I’ll probably be able to pull off something similar to what I did in Beijing. However that’s not the case.”

Yet after a year that left him fighting for his life, Merritt had no difficulty putting Saturday’s setback into perspective.

I’ve come to grips with it. Nothing can be worse than being told you’ll never run again, even if you come up short.

And I’ve been to the Olympics, I’ve won a gold medal, I’ve broken the world record.

Someone else can have a turn I guess.

Merritt said he hoped his determination to comeback would serve as an inspiration to others.

“People should just know that no matter what you’re going through in life if you put your mind to something you want to accomplish anything is possible,” he said.

– Additional reporting by AFP

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Niall Kelly

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