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McLeod targets gold in memory of aunt

Published:Thursday | July 14, 2016 | 7:00 AM
McLeod

MONTE CARLO, Monaco:

As if it was not a daunting enough task for those who will have to compete against him at next month's Olympics Games, Jamaica's 110m hurdler Omar McLeod is drawing even more motivation from his late aunt.

The 22-year-old, who has been beating all comers so far this season, said if he manages to live up to the favourite tag and strike gold next month in Rio, he will dedicate it to his late aunt, Fionna Knight, who died in 2014.

"She was, like, my best friend. She was my youngest aunt and we were really close," McLeod told The Gleaner. "She is the one who encouraged me to go to college, and, if it wasn't for her, I honestly don't think I would be here. It was her idea and she played a huge role in my career, so I would definitely dedicate it to her.

"I run with her in mind, and I even have a couple pieces of jewelry with her name engraved on them."

McLeod, who hails from the small farming community of Sanguinetti in Clarendon, is also looking to make the community and the entire country proud by taking gold at his first Olympics outing.

"Olympics is the biggest sporting event in the world, and I have dreamed of being an Olympian let alone getting a gold medal," McLeod said. "That would definitely change my life forever, change my community and my country would be proud, so it would mean a lot."

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With the likes of Aries, Merritt, David Oliver, and Jason Richardson all failing to make America's team to contest the event at the Olympics, and the injury woes of Hansle Parchment, who had to get a medical exemption from Jamaica's trials, McLeod is the overwhelming favourite going into the Games.

But he said he is not focusing on who will or will not line up in the final. His only focus is on the hurdles he has to clear.

"Who is in the race, I don't care. My competition is the obstacles in front of me. I have 10 obstacles in front of me, so it would be pointless to focus on seven other persons," McLeod said. "So there is no added pressure. It is just for me to go out there and execute my race and stick to my race plan as always."

He would, however, love for his compatriot, Parchment, to line up next to him in the final

"I always love racing with Hansle Parchment as although we are rivals on the track, we are almost best friends outside of it, and we bring the best out in each other," McLeod said. "So I am hoping he bounces back because I really want him to be in that final in Rio so we can definitely push each other again and I am confident that he will be."

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com