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'The world record is next for McLeod'

Published:Saturday | August 20, 2016 | 8:00 AMHubert Lawrence
Omar McLeod reacts after winning the men's 110 metres gold medal during athletics competition inside the Olympic Stadium at the Rio 2016 Games on Tuesday night.

With the Olympic gold medal safely tucked away, Omar McLeod will soon get the 110 metres hurdles world record. That's the opinion of Raymond Graham, who coached McLeod in his final year in high school. The veteran sprints and hurdlers instructor says the Olympic champion was tentative in Rio de Janeiro, host city of the Games, and now he expects a more relaxed approach to threaten the world record of 12.80 seconds.

"The next thing I think is the world record", he projected. "He got a bit tentative because he wanted to become Olympic champion," he said as he analysed McLeod's performance in Rio.

McLeod, the first Jamaican to win an Olympic gold medal in the 110m hurdles, has a personal best of 12.97 seconds.

"Now (that) the weight has come off his shoulders," he elaborated, "I think he's more loose now.

"He has nothing to worry about now because this is the highest you can reach in your career - winning a gold medal in the Olympics," the coach explained, "so he has the licence to go out there and do what he can do best.

"So I see next thing is the world record," Graham said with confidence. "If it doesn't come this season," he predicted, "because you know he has about three, four more races, it will come soon after."

Interestingly, McLeod will be back in action on August 25 in Lausanne, Switzerland, where 2004 Olympic champion Liu Xiang of China set a world record of 12.88 in 2006.

McLeod's best time this year is 12.98.

His opponents in Lausanne should include Spain's Orlando Ortega, and Dmitri Bascou of France, who took the silver and bronze medals in Rio.