Win takes McLeod closer to Beijing goal
In the days leading up to his race in the final of the 110-metre hurdles at the National Championships, Omar McLeod publicly stated his intention to win and go on and possibly take the gold medal at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China, in late August. On Saturday night, the 21-year-old sophomore at the University of Arkansas backed up his words with an exhilarating run to become the Jamaican national champion and the fastest man in the world this year.
McLeod, the 2015 NCAA outdoor champion, clocked a personal-best 12.97 seconds to hold off a fast-finishing 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Hansle Parchment (13.08) and 2014 Commonwealth Games champion Andrew Riley (13.35). The win also meant that McLeod, the 2015 NCAA 60-metre indoor champion, remains unbeaten this season.
He came within 0.03 seconds of Parchment's national record of 12.94 as he claimed his first national title.
"It's a spectacular feeling. I am tremendously happy with my performance," said McLeod, who stopped the clock at 13.01 at the NCAA championships in Oregon on June 12. The time was the fastest in the world this year under all conditions as he was aided by a 3.9m/s wind.
"At the NCAA's, that wasn't the perfect time. God put it off for this time and once I had a perfect wind I knew I could go 12."
McLeod became only the second Jamaican and the 18th man overall to break 13 seconds in the event. He joins American Mark Crear and Frenchman Ladji Doucoure as the man with the 14th-fastest time in the history of the event.
He dedicated the win to his aunt Fiona Knight, who died in April this year.
"This is a perfect tribute to her. I know she wanted to be here and I know she is watching. I am just glad that I am able to make myself proud and my family," said the world leader who, after his race, ran up onto the cycle track at the National Stadium to hug and celebrate the moment with several members of his family, who had assembled in front of the grandstand following his resounding victory.
It was a victory which, he said has given him a boost towards his goal of winning in Beijing. "This is just an extra boost, so I am really happy. I am ready for
Beijing," he said.
McLeod, who announced that he is turning pro, will next compete at a 'couple of Diamond League meets' as he continues to prepare for the World Championships.