Photo: Omar McLeod strikes gld for Jamaica in London in the Men's 110m hurdles final.
Omar McLeod lifted the gloom in the Jamaican camp on Monday when he won gold in the men’s 110m hurdle final at the IAAF World Championships in London. Following two days of despair where both Usain bolt and Elaine Thompson had failed to land expected gold medals, it was left up to the Olympic Champion to deliver the goods.
Drawn in lane four with his teammate Hansle Parchment in lane eight, McLeod was out quickest out of the blocks and he never let go. He was matched almost stride for stride by the defending champion Sergey Shubenkov and managed to get a small separation at the penultimate hurdle. His superior foot speed took him across the line faster than the Russian who had to settle for silver.
Balazs Baji of Hungary finished third after closing on the field late. Hansle Parchment who won Olympic bronze for Jamaica in that very stadium in 2012 finished 8th after yet another dreadful start.
The joyous celebration by McLeod showed just how much it meant to him to add the World title to his Olympic title that he achieved in Rio, Brazil last year.
In a post race interview, he dedicated the win to his idol, Usain Bolt.
“I did it for Usain Bolt, I did it for Elaine, I remember last year when I fed off their momentum and it didn’t happen this year. Usain got bronze, but I didn’t have that high momentum going in. I really had to stay positive and do it the Omar McLeod way and shine my own light.”
McLeod had been very conservative in the heats and semifinals but knew he had to release the “hand breaks” in order to win.
“I knew that to take control of this race I had to get the start. This is probably the best line up ever, Olympic champions, World champions, it was just the best so I knew I had to go out, get that Omar McLeod start, take control of the race and just take it from there.”
Understanding the role he has to play as the new emerging star of Jamaican track and field McLeod also dedicated the win to the Jamaican camp.
“It was honestly daunting (in the camp)I really, really wanted to go out there and bring that spark back, I really wanted to do that and like I said I didn’t come out here and do it for myself, I did it for my country, I did it for the Jamaica camp, there is still hope.”
In the first round of the men’s 200m Yohan Blake looked very relaxed in winning his heat while Rasheed Dwyer finished third in his heat to advance. Warren Weir was fourth in his heat in a slow 20.60s and failed to advance.
The women’s triple jump final was very exciting as the defending champion, Colombian Caterina Ibarguen battled with the Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas for the gold. Rojas won by two centimeters with a best leap of 14.91m to Ibarguen’s 14.89m, Olga Rypakova of Kazakhstan was third with 14.77m. Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts was 8th with 14.13 and Kimberly Williams 10th with 14.01m.
In the women’s 400m hurdles, Leah Nugent finished 5th in her heat but managed to advance on time. She failed to attack the hurdles and was left trailing the field in the home stretch. There was no such issue for Ristananna Tracey in heat three as she destroyed the field from lane two, clocking an impressive 54.92s. National champion Rhonda Whyte fought her way to second place in 55.18 in heat five as all three ladies advanced to the semifinals.
In the semifinals of the male equivalent only one athlete advanced. Kemar Mowatt who ran in the fastest of the three semifinals finished fourth in 48.66 to advance to Wednesday’s final. The race was won by American Kerron Clement. National champion Jaheel Hyde was third in heat two but his time of 49.75 was not enough to take him through. In fact no one from his heat advanced to the final. Ricardo Cunningham was always struggling in heat three and finished 6th in a pedestrian 50.54s
The Women’s 400m also saw three of the four athletes advance to the final. In heat one, Stephenie-Ann McPherson with a season’s best of 50.56s ran a well timed race to finish second behind Olympic champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas who won in 50.36s. Quanera Hayes of the USA was third in 50.71.
Novlene Williams-Mills (50.67) and Shericka Jackson (50.70) finished third and fourth respectively in heat two and advanced on time but US Collegiate champion Chrisann Gordon was not so lucky after finishing third in 50.87 in heat three.
Day five will be highlighted for Jamaica by the Men’s 400m final where both Nathon Allen and Demish Gaye will chase a first ever senior individual global medal.