Grant Holloway on his next hurdle: “When they talk about the greatest of all-time, I want it to be me”

The American hurdler, who became a back-to-back gold medallist at July’s 2022 World Athletics Championships will be one of the stars to watch at the Monaco Diamond League on Wednesday August 10.

By Evelyn Watta
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Grant Holloway does not shy away from talking about his track athletics achievements and his future dreams.

Defending his men's 110m hurdles world title was “one for the history books”.

The main target now is to be a three-time world champion at the distance.

Winning Olympic silver at Tokyo 2020 in 2021 fell short, but it was another box to tick on his career list - “get a medal every single year until I retire”.

The world indoor champion in the 60m hurdles is second on the all-time 110m hurdles list behind compatriot Aries Merritt, whose 12.80 is a just another barrier for him to clear.

“I want to just rewrite the whole book. I want, when they talk about the greatest of all-time hurdlers, I want it to be me. When they talk about 110m hurdles, I want my name to pop up and when they talk about 60 metre hurdles, I want my name to pop up,“ Holloway said in an exclusive interview with Olympics.com after winning his second gold at last month’s World Athletics Championships 2022 in Oregon.

He's back on the track on Wednesday (10 August) in the Monaco Diamond League meet.

"I am slowly ticking away all my boxes, the world record is definitely on that discussion, I have the indoor one. I just need to get the outdoor one. Of course, get the Olympic gold."

READ MORE: Grant Holloway holds nerve to win Track & Field Worlds 110m hurdles gold

Bursting onto the scene at the 2019 World Championships after London miss

2019 was a breakthrough year for the American sprinter. At the NCAA championships, Holloway was unbeaten in the 60m indoor and the 110m outdoor hurdles races from 2017-2019, however, he was still unknown in the global circle.

He’d hoped to change that by 2017 when he competed in the U.S Championships in the hopes of qualifying for the worlds in London. He missed out by .05 seconds behind the winner Aleec Harris, Merritt who was second, and third placed Devon Allen. Holloway had to sit out until 2019 when he punched his ticket behind Daniel Roberts.

“I wasn't a World Youth champ. I came into the sport in 2019 at 21,” he recalled.

“I didn't have anything to my name but a whole bunch of just collegiate records and everything. So I wasn't known on the world stage."

At his debut World Championships in Doha, he put himself on the map by winning a gold medal. Holloway felt like he belonged and was just waiting for the big moment to shine.

“About five, six years ago I was playing American football at the time. It was just one of things now where I am just strictly track and strictly focused on the hurdles. So I could put all my energy and effort into becoming the best of all time.”

Doha was a turning point of a hurdling journey that began when he elected to compete for the University of Florida as a hurdler rather than pursue a footballing journey to the NFL at the University of Georgia.

Holloway the versatile athlete who wants to win everything

In high school, Grant Holloway was a highly regarded wide receiver even as he lined up on track alongside his brother Trey.

The siblings were trained by their father Stan, a former athlete who also coached at the club level. Even when Grant settled on athletics, his versatility stood out.

Holloway ruled the hurdles at collegiate events, a dominance that included breaking a 40-year-old NCAA record held by former world record holder Renaldo Nehemiah. He was also a star long jumper with a best of 8.17m and was a key member of the 4x 100m and 4x400m relay teams.

“When they talk about the most versatile athlete ever to come through our time, between me and my good friend Fred Kerley, I would love both of our pictures to pop up,” he said as he talked of how he is working to create a legacy.

“It's just one of the things now where I just want to continue to get medals each and every year.

With a major career gold medal and a first sub-13-second for the first time, the 24-year-old went into the shortened 2021 season with the attitude that he was going to be one of the best hurdlers.

The second fastest man in history made waves setting a new 60m hurdles world indoor record that had been unbeaten for nearly three decades. His 6.50-second run bettered Colin Jackson’s world record of 7.30 from 1994.

Grant Holloway of the United States celebrates a world record time in the Men's 60m Hurdles final during the World Athletics Indoor Tour Madrid 2021 (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Last year’s U.S. Olympic Trials in May was another career high for Holloway.

He was the only man to have broken 13 seconds in 2021, when he missed the world record by 0.01 in Eugene. He headed to the Tokyo Olympics as the favourite for the crown, as he had not lost a sprint hurdles race since August 2020. He hung on for silver behind Rio Olympic bronze medallist Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment.

A loss that still stings but would be a catalyst for Holloway’s 2022 season.

“I was happy only because I told myself I wanted to be an Olympic medallist as a little kid. I achieved that goal. Obviously, I wanted to get the gold. I'm a sore loser in that aspect,” he admitted.

“As part of athletics, you dust yourself off, you pick yourself back up and you go again. I went into this season, and I told myself: 'I want to win the indoor title and defend my outdoor title.' That was my goal this year, and that's exactly what I did.”

READ MORE: USA hurdler Grant Holloway: 'I didn’t come to the party to stand on the wall'

Holloway on leaving a legacy: "I am part of history"

Holloway won the World Indoor gold in Belgrade last March, a race that set the rhythm for his outdoor season.

“Visualisation is a key component in track and field. If you're able to visualise your race and see what you're going to do before it even happens, when it starts to come into fruition, it's second nature.

“I had this date on my calendar for a very long time. And it was just one of the things where I knew when I had to be prepared. I took a loss earlier in the season. But from there, it was just one of the things where I let that loss fuel me. And I was able to become a world champ,” he told Olympics.com.

Holloway’s only loss this season was to teammate Allen at the New York Grand Prix in June, before he claimed the outdoor world title in Eugene, Oregon.

“I am part of history. I was the first world champion to win a 110-metre hurdles in the United States. It's all about just building off of that. And I'm very excited to see what's going to happen next. The sky's the limit for me. As long as I keep up with the hard work, the determination, I think I can do anything.”

Grant Holloway of Team United States celebrates after winning gold in the Men's 110m Hurdles Final on day three of the World Athletics Championships Oregon22 at Hayward Field on July 17, 2022 in Eugene, Oregon. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Holloway hopes to breeze through the remainder of the season that includes his first Diamond League race of the year on Wednesday (August 10) on the quick track in Monaco, where he is expected to target Meritt’s meet record of 12.93 from 2012.

He is motivated and has an unrelenting focus to leave a legacy, and claim that third outdoor crown at next year’s World Championships in Budapest.

“All the hard work and dedication and blood, sweat and tears, it's all for this moment right here, to be a back-to-back world champion,” he said proudly displaying his gold medal from Eugene.

“I was declaring it months and months and months ago, even when I was getting workout papers from my strength and conditioning coach Matt DeLancey at the University of Florida. I would tell him to write my name and then on the backside of it 'three-time world champ'. This was before even the indoor world champs even happened. I just declare each and every year I figure out what I'm working towards and that's my main goal.”

Holloway doesn’t want his greatness to be confined to him alone. He hopes his current golden standards can also inspire others.

In his short pro career, he has had the opportunity to tap into greats including Jackson, also a two-time world champion and Olympic silver medallist, and Meritt, the last American to win the 110m hurdles - at the Olympic Games in London 2012. He is happy to return that favour to the next generation of hurdlers.

“I tell them never give up on their goals. This sport is all about longevity and it is hard once you get in it's hard to get out of it, really just to stick to it. You might not be good exactly right when you start, but it's just one of things where you just continue just to work and work and work at it.”

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