Olympic champion Aries Merritt claimed an extraordinary bronze medal days before he undergoes a kidney transplant as Russian Sergey Shubenkov stormed to the world 110 metres hurdles title.

Shubenkov was left dumbfounded after flying over the hurdles to take a clear lead off the final barrier and crossing the line for his first global championship gold in 12.98 seconds.

American Merritt, who was told he would never run again after being diagnosed with kidney disease in 2013, will receive the new organ from his sister in Arizona next week.

The state I'm in, the training I've done, it's been very difficult, very hard. The struggle is real

Aries Merritt, Olympic champion

The 30-year-old got off to his usual explosive start and had an early lead before his lack of training took its toll and he faded over the final hurdles.

"How is that possible? I don't know," he said.

"I just kept a level head and did what needed to be done and completed my race to the best of my ability.

"But given the circumstances, I think it was my best race of the year and I came away with a medal, just as I had hoped to.

"It almost means more to me than my Olympic gold, the state I'm in, the training I've done, it's been very difficult, very hard. The struggle is real."

Defending champion David Oliver of the US hit three of his first four hurdles and was never in the race, finishing seventh in 13.33 seconds.

Merritt had a brilliant 2012, winning gold at the London Olympics and shattering the world record with a time of 12.80 seconds at the Brussels Diamond League meeting.

It was after he finished sixth at the 2013 world championships that his illness was diagnosed and he only revealed this week that he was going to have the transplant.

He was not sure whether he would recover in time for next year's Olympics.

"I don't know," he said. "If I recover quickly, you'll see me back soon, if I don't you know I'm still recovering.

"There's a chance that you won't see me next year, but I'm going to be optimistic and say I hope to see you in Rio."

Schipper is the first European to win the title since Russia's Anastasiya Kapachinskaya in Paris in 2003 [EPA]

Meanwhile, Dutch sensation Dafne Schippers clocked the fourth fastest run of all time to pip Jamaica's Elaine Thompson by three-hundredths of a second and take the women's 200m gold.

The former heptathlete, who claimed silver in the 100m behind Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce on Monday, surged through the line in 21.63 seconds, the quickest time for 17 years in the half-lap sprint.

Only Americans Florence Griffith-Joyner, the world record holder, and Marion Jones, who was later banned for doping, have run faster.

"I can't believe it," Schippers told reporters.

"What a race, what a tournament for me. I think they'll be going crazy in the Netherlands at the moment."

Schipper is the first European to win the title since Russia's Anastasiya Kapachinskaya in Paris in 2003, breaking 12 years of American and Jamaican dominance in the event.

Source: Reuters