Your editor met Grant Holloway in Doha, Qatar, in 2019. The interview was about fifteen minutes, and Grant Holloway was fantastic. Deji Ogeyingbo wrote this piece about the Men’s 110m hurdles and the exceptional athletes who compete in this event and will battle in Budapest, Hungary, next week.
Grant Holloway faces a big hurdle in the quest for a third-world title in Budapest.
Very few athletes in Track and Field can boast of the winning ratio that Grant Holloway commands since he started running professionally. You can liken it to a high school student who has always come out top of his class bar a few second or third-place finishes in some papers. That’s the level of dominance Holloway has built for himself in both the men’s 60mH and 110mH.
Grant Holloway Wins the Men’s 110 Hurdles with a time of 13.04s at the Wanda Diamond League meeting in Rome/Florence, Italy on 2 June 2023, photo by Grant Holloway for Diamond League AG
The American holds the world indoor 60m record with 7.29s and is his lifetime best of 12.81s, just 0.01s off Aries Merritt’s world record of 12.80s. For an event in which the margin for error is very slim, Holloway has carved a niche for himself as the most commanding sprint hurdler in the world for the last four years.
Some athletes that might come to this level of dominance are the likes of Mondo Duplantis in the Pole Vault, Yulimar Rojas in the Triple Jump, or perhaps Ryan Crouser in the Shot Put. However, these are athletes that compete in field events and have a minimum of three tries to get the perfect results. Not so for Holloway. Ten hurdles, and he’s expected to scale them with perfection.
Grant Holloway, adidas Atlanta City Games, photo by Kevin Morris
The American hasn’t been at his top form judging by his standards, having lost a race in May to Jamaica’s Rasheed Broadbell, who will be his stiffest competition going into the world championships in Budapest this month. And unlike in 2021, where Holloway had not lost any race leading into the Olympic Games in Tokyo but eventually losing the final to Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment, here he knows there are more sterner rivals looking to knock him off his perch.
As expected, Holloway made light work of his indoor season, one in which he has become synonymous with dominating. The Olympic Silver medalist followed it up with yet another fine season outdoors in which he clocked another sub-13 clocking at the Paris Diamond League. Asides from the world title, it has always been his dream to get the highest number of sub-13 seconds in history before he calls it quit with the sport. For now, he’s eyes will be fixed on defending his crown in the Hungarian Capital.
Grant Holloway takes win in 7.35 at Birmingham WIT Final, photo by Getty Images for British Athletics
Broadbell tops the men’s 110m hurdle list this year with 12.94, a time he ran at the Jamaican Championships in Kingston. Apart from his heats at the Tom Jones Memorial, where he finished second, the Commonwealth Games Champion will set his sights on getting his first world championship Gold this year. It was the first time this season that Broadbell had gone under 13 seconds, the mark coming much earlier than last season when he clocked 12.99 last August, which was, up until last this year, his personal best.
Interestingly, their first-ever meeting came in Hungary last year in August, with Holloway losing out to Broadbell by a hairs breath as both runners clocked 13.12. Since then, they’ve both raced each other five times, and their head-to-head currently split at 3-3. With the sort of dominance Holloway has shown in the last four years, he will be going into worlds with a bit of cushion.
Rasheed Broadbell, JAM, CG winner, upset the field in the 110m hurdles, photo by Diamond League AG
Another runner that can throw a spanner in the works of the American is his compatriots Cordell Tinch and Daniel Roberts. Tinch is the more recent entry on the list of Americans trying to usurp Holloway. The 23- year old is an enigma and one that can throw the cat amongst the pigeons considering he wasn’t running this fast before going on a hiatus in 2020.
The 110m hurdle team, Cordell Tinch, Daniel Robert, Freddie Crittenden, USATF Outdoor Track and Field Championships held at Hayward Field, University of Oregon, July 6-10, 2023, photo by Kevin Morris
Tinch has run 12.96 this year, the second fastest in the world behind Broadbell, and will be hoping to be the first American over the line and claim his first major title. He brings his own unique blend of finesse and power to the fray. Known for his fluid hurdling style and explosive acceleration, Tinch has consistently demonstrated an uncanny ability to maintain momentum over the hurdles.
Grant Holloway and Daniel Roberts, photo by Getty Images/ British Athletics
Roberts completes the quartet of contenders, armed with a combination of speed, precision, and relentless determination. A master of hurdling technique, Roberts has honed his skills to perfection, enabling him to navigate the hurdles with incredible efficiency. He might seem a tad behind the rest, but he’s won the US title this year with a fine 13.05s clocking.
Japan’s Shusuke Izumiya will be in the mix as Just Kwaou-Mathey leads a charge of a very capable French team that might cause an upset in Budapest.