Westerville News & Public Opinion

Track & Field

Wilson set for world meet

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Growing up in Westerville, Ryan Wilson dreamed of excelling in track and field on an international stage.

That dream has become reality.

Wilson, 32, will compete in the 110-meter hurdles in the International Association of Athletics Federations World Championships, which are scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 10, to Aug. 18 in Moscow.

Wilson earned the berth by winning the event (13.08 seconds) in the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships held June 20-23 in Des Moines, Iowa. It was his first national title.

His competition included Olympic champion and world record-holder Aries Merritt, world champion Jason Richardson and three-time U.S. champion and former national record-holder David Oliver.

"I've expected to do what I'm doing now since I was about 7 or 8 years old, so this is not a surprise for me," Wilson said.

His time at nationals was the second-fastest of his career, with his best of 13.02 coming in the Reebok Grand Prix in New York City in 2007.

Wilson entered the national championships in 2007 as a favorite to win a medal, but he suffered a cramp in his groin in the final and failed to finish the race.

During the 2008 Summer Olympic trials, Wilson competed with a hernia and missed the final by one spot after finishing fifth in his semifinal in 13.36. The top three finishers in the final advanced to the Olympics.

In 2009, Wilson tore a hamstring before the national championships and was unable to compete.

During last year's Olympic trials, Wilson hit the seventh hurdle in the final and placed seventh in 13.24.

He entered this year's nationals healthy and is looking forward to the world championships.

"I'm very excited, eager to go race and it should be a lot of fun," he said.

"Moscow should be brand new for me and I'm looking forward to exploring the city a little bit as much as I can and taking a look at some of the great art museums that I've heard about. It should be interesting."

In high school, Wilson led Westerville North to a share of the Division I state championship in 1998. He won the long jump, 110 hurdles and 300 hurdles, scoring all of North's 30 points to tie Brunswick for the state title.

The 1999 graduate advanced to state in four events each of his four seasons, scoring in 14 of the events.

"Ryan has worked so long and hard at his career and finally it all came together," former North boys coach Bob Cavin said.

"He has consistently been a top hurdler worldwide. Winning the nationals and making the world championships is awesome."

After graduating from North, Wilson competed for the University of Southern California, winning an NCAA title in the 110 hurdles in 2003. He graduated from USC in 2005 and has been a professional track athlete since 2004.

His mother, Cynthia, recalls her son, at a young age, stating his intentions of excelling in the sport.

"All Ryan has always wanted to do is represent the U.S. team ever since he was a little kid and so it's just great for me to be able to see him in red, white and blue," said Cynthia, who will attend the world meet.

"He was the kind of kid that if he said he really wanted to do something, he worked and worked at it and made it happen."

The next Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. Wilson isn't thinking that far ahead.

"I'm honestly focused on these next couple of weeks and then I'll focus on next year when next year arrives," he said. "It does me no good to think about three years down the road right now.

"Obviously, it's always been a goal and it will remain a goal. Whether or not I'm fit to compete for a spot on the next Olympic team remains to be seen.

"I have more important things to think about than three years from now."

Wilson, who is an artist and graphic designer in Los Angeles, tries to visit family and friends in Ohio at least once a year.

Johnny Jackson, who is the boys and girls track coach at North and coached the girls team when Wilson was in high school, said Wilson's success has been impressive.

"We talk about Ryan a lot," Jackson said. "It's a big deal. I always tell kids some of the things he did that I thought were pretty amazing. I was there when he won the state meet single-handedly."

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