Thu | Jan 23, 2020

MCLEOD PROMISES FIREWORKS - 110m hurdler sets sights on smashing national record today

Published:Wednesday | October 2, 2019 | 12:29 AMAndrÈ Lowe/Sports Editor

DOHA, Qatar:

Defending World 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod has promised something special – national record special – as he looks to become the third man to successfully defend his title in the event at the IAAF World Championships in Doha tonight.

McLeod, who looked quite convincing in his win in the heats on Monday, clocking 13.17 seconds, is targeting a 12.8s winning time in the final today, a run that would not only erase his own 12.90-second national record, but test Aries Merritt’s seven-year world record of 12.80 seconds.

“I am going to give you a 12.8-something,” McLeod declared.

He comes into the championship with a season best of 13.07 seconds, which was done at the beginning of September.

That was the fastest time recorded in the event since July 5, and the 25-year-old’s improved technique under new coach Rana Reider and his determination to continue his medal run following successes at the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2017 World Championships has him eyeing a big time inside the Khalifa International Stadium.

“I am a championship performer and I am ready to have fun. We had a historic performance by Tajay (Gayle) and then we had Shelly-Ann (Fraser-Pryce) come back and do it, so the flag is flying high, and it’s up to us to keep it flying high here,” said McLeod, who was speaking ahead of Fedrick Dacres’ discus silver-medal performance on Monday night, which pushed Jamaica’s medal tally to four – two gold and two silver.

McLeod will have to first navigate his semi-final, which gets started at 8:13 p.m. (12:13 p.m. Jamaica time).

Before he takes the track, his compatriots Ronald Levy, the Commonwealth champion, and Orlando Bennett will compete in the opening semi at 8:05 p.m. (12:05 p.m.), where they will line up alongside strong medal contenders Grant Holloway (USA) and Sergey Shubenkov (ANA), with Andrew Riley featuring in the last semi-final at 8:21 p.m. (12:21 p.m.)

Stephenie-Ann McPherson produced her best time this season, 50.70, en route to winning her women’s 400m semi-final last night, booking her place in tomorrow’s final at 11:50 p.m. (3:30 p.m.), where she will be joined by Shericka Jackson, who ran 50.10 for third in her semi-final.

Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who leads all qualifiers after a comfortable 49.66 win, and Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser, 49.79, will be difficult to separate from the top two spots in the medal round.

National champion Demish Gaye and Akeem Bloomfield booked their lanes in today’s men’s 400m semi-finals, which start at 8:35 p.m. (12:35 p.m.), but national record holder Rusheen McDonald, who ran 46.21, was a shell of his former self, finishing out of the qualifying spots with a fifth-place finish in his heat.

Gaye finished second in his heat and will start the semi-finals as the third-fastest qualifier after his 45.02-second effort, while Bloomfield, competing in his first World Championships, also crossed the line in second place in his heat with a 45.34 clocking.

There was also a mixed bag in the women’s 400m hurdles event, where only national champion Rushell Clayton and youngster Shiann Salmon managed to progress from the heats and into today’s semi-final round, which gets going at 9:05 p.m. (1:05 p.m.).

Only four women have gone faster than Clayton this season, and she looked the part, easily winning her heat in 55.23, showing no sign of nerves in what was also her first run at a major global senior championship.

Salmon was solid throughout in her heat, crossing the line in third place with a personal-best time of 55.20 seconds.

However, Rhonda Whyte struggled from the onset in her first-round assignment, finishing sixth with a time of 56.37 seconds.

There will be no Jamaican in the women’s 200m final after Elaine Thompson’s withdrawal because of a calf issue and Shashalee Forbes (23.14) ran eighth in her semi-final.

Today’s action will see Danniel Thomas-Dodd opening her campaign in the women’s shot put qualifiers, two years after missing out on a bronze medal with the last throw at the 2017 World Championships in London.

Thomas-Dodd, the national record holder, is the third-best thrower at the championship with her 19.55m distance, which she recorded on her way to winning gold at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, in the summer and is expected to easily progress from the 4:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m.) qualifiers and challenge for a medal when the final begins tomorrow at 10:35 p.m. (2:35 p.m.).

Aisha Praught-Leer will also line up in the women’s 1,500m heats at 5:35 p.m. (9:25 a.m.) in her first crack at the event at this level after stepping down from the 3,000m steeplechase, while Shanice Love and Shadae Lawrence will contest the qualification round of the women’s discus at 6 p.m. (10 a.m.) and 7:25 p.m. (11:25 a.m.), respectively.

andre.lowe@gleanerjm.com