Aries Merritt unquestionably ruled men's sprint hurdles in 2012. He won the Olympic 110-meter gold medal, the Diamond League championship and posted the year's top seven times, including a world record 12.80-second performance. He also won the World Indoor Championship 60-meter hurdles gold medal in Istanbul. At the time, Merritt's victory over Liu Xiang, who took the silver, was considered an upset, but in retrospect it foreshadowed Merritt's coming domination. Fellow American Jason Richardson also had a solid year, taking the silver in London and winning a pair of Diamond League races.
Javier Culson was considered the world's top 400-meter hurdler entering the 2012 season, but he had to settle for an Olympic bronze medal plus the Diamond League title. The year's main honors went to Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic, who posted the two best times of year at the best time possible - the Olympics. Sanchez, who was nearly 34 during the London Games, won his semifinal in 47.76 seconds, then earned his second Olympic gold medal in 47.63, with American Michael Tinsley taking the silver.
Ashton Eaton did just about everything possible in multi-events competition in 2012. He won the World Indoor heptathlon gold medal and broke his own world record with 6,645 points, well ahead of runner-up Oleksiy Kasyanov from Ukraine, with 6,071. Eaton scored a world record 9,039 points in the decathlon, at the U.S. Olympic Trials in June, then earned the Olympic gold medal with 8,869 points, beating fellow American Trey Hardee (8,671) and Cuba's Leonel Suarez (8,523).
China's Chen Ding set an Olympic record while winning the 20-kilometer race walk in London, in 1:18:46, ahead of Guatemala's Erick Barrondo (1:18:57) and Wang Zhen of China (1:19:25). Italy's Alex Schwazer posted the year's fastest time, 1:17:30, in Lugano in March. The top five 50-kilometer race walk times of 2012 were scored in London, where Sergey Kirdyapkin of Russia prevailed in an Olympic record 3:35:59, followed by Jared Tallent of Australia in 3:36:53, plus China's Si Tianfeng in 3:37:16.