Jason Richardson Aries Merritt David Oliver

Photo: Samantha Chang/TheImproper

Hurdling champions Jason Richardson, David Oliver, and Aries Merritt will compete in the hotly contested 110-meter hurdles at the adidas Grand Prix championships in New York on June 9, 2012.

The Diamond League event is one of the last pre-Olympics meets that world champion Richardson, American-record-holder Oliver, and world indoor champion Merritt will race in before the 2012 Summer Games in London.

The three superstars are intense and focused on the field, but relaxed and congenial off the pitch, admitting that constantly racing against one another has helped their pre-Olympic training.

“When you’re going against each other every single week, it kind of lets you know where you are in your training,” Richardson, 26, said at a press conference in New York on June 8. “Every single week is an Olympic preview. The Trials [which takes place June 30] is going to be a hot race and I am glad I am going to be in it.”

Merritt, 26, agreed their three-way rivalry is keeping them on their toes. “We try to push each other to the best performance possible every time we step on the track.”

Meanwhile, Oliver, 30, has a more philosophical approach. “I don’t look at it like we’re competing against each other,” he said. “We’re more or less competing against the 10 hurdles we have in front of us.

“We’re each individuals trying to work on what we have been doing in practice in a competitive environment. It’s not like who is fastest over 100 meters, mano a mano. In the hurdles, you have 10 barriers in front of you and that’s kind of like your stiffest competition.”

Not surprisingly, the trio are anxious to make the cut for the Olympics, which kicks off in July. Richardson has previously said the Olympic excitement sometimes keeps him up at night.

“I can’t sleep at night sometimes,” he said in May 2012. “For me the Olympics is our biggest stage. It’s our Super Bowl. It’s our Grammys. It’s our Academy Awards. It’s our biggest opportunity to show what we can do.”