McLeod sets sights on Rio gold
Finishing sixth in the final at the World Championships is a very creditable achievement, especially for a 21-year-old competing for the first time on such a big stage.
But though Omar McLeod just that last season, many expected more given the form that he showed going into the final.
"Last year, my legs were shot at World Championships, and that was because I was racing competitively every single week as a collegiate athlete," McLeod explained. "So definitely, that took a toll on my legs, and I got hurt before the World Outdoor Championships."
McLeod, now 22, is fast out of the blocks this season, again winning gold at the World Indoors before running 9.99 seconds in the 100m to create history as he is the first athlete to run under 10 seconds for the 100m and 13 seconds for the 110 m hurdles.
With no collegiate commitments this season, he is assuring that he will not fade come Olympics.
"This year, we are a lot smarter in competition. We are not competing every single week as this year is kind of a defrosting year," McLeod said. "So this year, I will be doing more competitive races, and that will definitely get me sharp for Rio. I want to be in the middle (gold medal podium), so that's the goal."
The former Manchester High and Kingston College student admitted that he, too, was stunned by his sub-10 100m clocking, which was achieved last month at the John McDonnell Invitational in Fayetteville with a 2.0 metres per second wind. That was McLeod's first competitive 100m outing since becoming a senior.
"I knew I had speed, but I didn't know I had speed of that sort. You can call that my first 100m ever," McLeod told The Gleaner. "Though I haven't done a lot of speed work, I just wanted to get sharp before opening, so my coach was like, 'Go run a 100m just to get your feet wet', and I really didn't know what was going on in the race. I really didn't execute it good. I just went in the blocks and ran, to be honest, and the time came. So it was definitely a shocker."
McLeod knows he will not only face strong competition on the circuit, but also at the Jamaican trials next month when he is scheduled to line up beside World and Olympic medallist Hansle Parchment and Andrew Riley.
"It is always exciting competing with those guys because every time I line up with them, you can always expect a great race," McLeod said.