By Amy Tennery
(Reuters) – Former University of Oregon dual-sport star Devon Allen will have the full endorsement of the crowd at his alma mater in this year’s world athletics championships, as he aims to live up to his own great expectations in the 110 metres hurdles.
The athlete turned NFL wide receiver bested reigning world champion Grant Holloway in 12.84 seconds at the NYC Grand Prix last month, the third fastest run of all-time.
Allen made clear, however, that he was not yet satisfied, telling reporters he believed Aries Merritt’s decade-old world record (12.80) was within reach.
He faced a serious challenge at the national championships two weeks later, clinching third place by a mere three thousandths of a second, in 13.09.
“In the U.S. right now, the 110 hurdles in a stacked event,” he said after the U.S. final in Eugene. “I’m just glad to have competed well and have made the team.”
The 2021 Diamond League champion showed no loss of his trademark confidence, however, saying he expected to dominate the competition at the international athletics meet.
“I’m in great shape, I’m in the best shape of my life, I’m the fastest I’ve ever been, so there’s not really much I have to do other than feel good by world champs,” the 27-year-old twice Olympian said.
“I’m going to go out there and try to win every heat… if I do that, then I’m going to win the final.”
In addition to Tokyo silver medallist Holloway, the world-leader can expect a mighty challenge from compatriots Trey Cunningham and Daniel Roberts, the national champion.
Among his few areas of planned self-improvement were cleaning up his start and maintaining his form through the finish, after getting “twisted” toward the end of recent Diamond League wins in Oslo and Paris.
He also scheduled sorely needed downtime after maintaining a gruelling schedule between the track and his burgeoning career as an NFL wide receiver.
Allen signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in April, returning to a sport he last played in 2016 during his collegiate days at the University of Oregon.
After pulling double duty from the gridiron to the hurdles for weeks, his sole priority – for now – is the track.
“My goal is to go out there and win world championships – that’s the only reason why I’m still running right now,” Allen said.
“And I think I have a good chance and I’m being aggressive and I’m having a great time doing it.”
The World Athletics Championships run from July 15 through July 24 in Eugene, Oregon.
(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, editing by Ed Osmond)