Mon | Aug 21, 2017

'Indescribable' feeling - McLeod plays it safe to land men's 110m hurdles crown

Published:Wednesday | August 17, 2016 | 8:00 AMAndre Lowe
Jamaica's Omar McLeod (centre) clears the final hurdle on the way to winning the men's 110 metres hurdles gold medal, as he races alongside France duo Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and Dimitri Bascou during competition at the Rio Olympics, inside the Olympic stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last night.

 

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil:

In 2015 he arrived at the World Championships in Beijing - his first major senior championships - as a strong contender for a medal.

Things didn't work out.

A sixth-place finish in that final will remain on his profile forever, but the lessons learnt will not be shown in any record books.

"I was a youngster and made the finals, but I learned to be patient."

That experience, that newfound patience was, however, the key to unlocking Jamaica's first gold medal in the 110m hurdles at a major senior championships.

Also, it was only Jamaica's second male sprint hurdles medal at the Olympic Games, after Hansle Parchment's London 2012 bronze.

Omar McLeod ran within himself - afraid of the potential damage that the speed he has not yet learned to contain might cost him.

He is, after all, the first hurdler to also boast a sub-10-second 100m time.

He didn't need it all last night, as he blew away the field inside the Olympics stadium to win in 13.05 seconds.

Spain's Orlando Ortega, 13.17, and Frenchman Dimitri Bascou, 13.24, took silver and bronze, respectively.

Still, only once has McLeod gone faster than his winning time this season.

 

SEED OF DOUBT

 

It was largely an open-and-shut result given the dominance of the Jamaican this year. But mishaps in his last two races before his arrival in Rio de Janeiro planted a seed of doubt within many observers.

Not McLeod, who underlined the value of his fall at the Monaco Diamond League and his disqualification at the Hungarian Grand Prix just over a month before his first race here on Monday night.

"It was a test of character and I think I bounced back well. I came into this championship like it never happened. I trusted myself, I dug deep in God, I trusted my ability and I came and had fun," said McLeod.

"It (recent mishaps) obviously weighs on your mind. You fall and you wonder what's going on, but you learn to regroup from stuff like that. I learned a lot from it and moved on," Jamaica's newest Olympic champion divulged.

"It's amazing! I am elated. The feeling is indescribable. I will have to recite it: 'You're an Olympic champion'," smiled the 2016 World Indoor champion.

"You know my journey. I've had an up-and-down year, but I never doubted myself. I never dwelled on it. It was a humbling experience; not that I'm cocky, but it showed that things happen in our sport, especially in this event, you're never guaranteed a perfect career or race."

Last night's race wasn't perfect either and as he explained, it was the crowning moment of a tempered approach throughout his campaign here to ensure that mistakes were minimised.

"I played it safe this championships. You know my speed, but I reserved a lot. I didn't want it to get the best of me, so I reserved a lot.

"All I needed to do to be honest was hurdle," said McLeod.