Easy as 1, 2, 3: Grant Holloway breezes in 110-meter hurdles for his 3rd straight world title

Grant Holloway, of the United States, left, cross the line to win the gold medal in the Men's 110-meters hurdles final during the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Monday, Aug. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)
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AP Sports Writer

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Posing for the cameras, Grant Holloway counted out his back-to-back-to-back 110-meter hurdles world titles, raising one finger, then another, then another.

It was as easy as “1, 2, 3.” Holloway made his race look almost that simple, too.

The American bolted to a fast start and never looked back Monday night at world championships, breezing to a victory in 12.96 seconds that elevated him into elite company. Holloway joined Greg Foster as the only 110 hurdler to win three straight world titles.

“Remarkable,” Holloway exclaimed.

Before Holloway entered the scene, the mighty American hurdlers were in a little bit of a hurdling funk (a funk for them anyway). They’d gone two straight worlds without a gold in the 110.

That just wasn’t like them.

“We were in a drought,” said Holloway, who won his first world title in Doha in 2019 and again last summer in Oregon. “It was my goal is to get us out of the drought and I called it a restoration phase. Now that we’re out of the restoration phase, it’s making sure I’m there.”

He insisted his celebration shortly after the race while standing in the middle of the track was spontaneous. This wasn’t a pre-planned sort of thing, because nothing can be planned with 10 hurdles standing in the way.

With the camera still zoomed in, Holloway held up all three fingers one final time before bouncing off to celebrate. He edged out reigning Olympic champion Hansle Parchment of Jamaica by .11 seconds. Holloway’s U.S. teammate, Daniel Roberts, finished with the bronze.

“When Hansle and Daniel and the rest of that field is in that race, you can never count anybody out,” said the 25-year-old Holloway, who went to high school in Virginia before starring at the University of Florida. “The main thing is really just to continue to build off this consistency, build off this success and continue to take the sport to high hopes.”

Only fitting that Holloway achieved his feat on the 40th anniversary of Foster starting his at the inaugural 1983 world championships in Helsinki. Foster won again in 1987 and ’91. As for overall world titles among 110 hurdles, Allen Johnson has four. Another American, Aries Merritt, holds the world-record holder by running 12.80 seconds in 2012.

“Historically, we’ve have had a great tradition” in the hurdles, said Renaldo Nehemiah, the former world record holder in the event who’s now the agent for newly crowned women’s 100-meter champion Sha’Carri Richardson. “So you have guys who just want to be in that conversation as well.”

Parchment has taken to studying just how effortlessly Holloway blasts out of the starting blocks. It’s something Parchment wants to become even more proficient at before the Jamaican defends his Olympic title at the Paris Games next summer.

“He’s the top man right now,” Parchment said. “Grant is like a benchmark so I have to watch him to see what I can learn from him.”

Like any good hurdler, Holloway avoids looking too far down the road. That’s why Paris isn’t on his mind just yet. He wound up with silver at the Tokyo Games.

“I’m just going to enjoy this,” Holloway said. “When we get to that outdoor phase, I’ll write down my goals, and put them in my book. I’ll challenge myself and I will challenge my team to make sure I fulfill those goals. We’ll make it happen.”