Tue | Sep 26, 2017

McLeod aims for ‘something special’

Published:Thursday | August 25, 2016 | 8:00 AMRaymond Graham

LAUSANNE, Switzerland:

After his success a week ago in Rio, Brazil, where he created history by becoming the first Jamaican to win a gold medal in the men's 110 metres hurdles at the Olympic Games, Omar McLeod will be looking to do "something special" when he races at the Athletissima Lausanne meeting - the 10th of 14 in this year's Diamond League Series - in Switzerland today.

"Right now, my body is on autopilot and it is good when you have your main objective out of the way as you are more relaxed now and it is all about having fun, as when your mind and body are relaxed, you are able to compete more freely.

"I am excited now as whenever I am in this state, then you can expect something special at the meet," said McLeod during a pre-meet press conference yesterday.

The Jamaican, who is second with 20 points in the series, will face leader Orlando Ortega of Spain (30), who was second in Rio; and David Bascou of France, the Olympic bronze medallist; along with David Oliver of the United States (15).

He had mishaps in his last two races before the Olympics.

"Obviously, going into Rio, those mishaps were on my mind, but those were humbling experiences for me and I learned a lot as I came to the realisation that things happen in the sport and you will never be guaranteed a perfect career or season, and it was a test of character for me, and I liked how I bounced back, and when I went to Rio it was like I was a brand-new person," he reasoned.

 

RISING ABOVE

 

"When people asked me about the mishaps, I got upset because in my mind, it didn't happen and I trusted myself, my background training, my coaches, and the awesome season I had, and the capabilities I have, and I'm happy I could rise above those problems and I achieved my goal," he said.

Continuing, he noted that preparing with his personal coach in the United States instead of going to Jamaica's pre-Olympic training camp was helpful.

"In this career, it is a learning experience as last year, I left my coach early and went to the camp, and it is not wise when you have a lot of coaches coming into your ears as nobody knows you like your real coach, and after last year's mishap, I thought it was best for me to stay with my personal coach and to be around that environment where I had my coach and trainer support, and it was the smartest move for me," said McLeod.

"I just went to Rio to do my thing, and I was playing it safe as my objective was to be Olympic champion and I had flawless races right through the rounds as I tried not to press too much, not doing anything special, as all I wanted to do was to get the gold medal."

McLeod had earlier won the 60 metres hurdles at the World Indoor Championships in Eugene, Portland, in March.

Reflecting on his joy in Rio, McLeod said: "It is an overwhelming feeling and I haven't come to terms as yet with my victory and, hopefully, after I finish competing this season, I can sit and look back and say I really did it and it is a blessing and I am grateful to God that I was able to live up to the expectations and made my country proud."

Meanwhile, following her double-sprint success in Rio, Elaine Thompson, who is in second place on 20 points in the women's 100m, looks set to grab 10 points and take over the lead as she will be one of three Jamaicans to face the starter. Race leader Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands will be absent.

Other Jamaicans competing in this event are Rio finalist Christania Williams and veteran Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Other leaders down to compete are Lashawn Merritt of the United States in the men's 400m, with Kirani James of Grenada his main rival.

Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine on 26 points, Erik Kynard of the United States (22), and Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar lead the men's high jump, while in the women's 100m hurdles, Jamaica champion Megan Simmonds will run against the US' Diamond Series leader Kendra Harrison (40 points), Jasmine Stowers, Sharika Nelvis, and Dawn Harper Nelson.

Former world 100m record holder Asafa Powell, in his pet event, and Julian Forte, who runs in the half-lap, are the other Jamaicans down to participate.

 

Schedule for Jamaicans

 

12:40 p.m. - Asafa Powell - men's 100m

1:44 p.m. - Megan Simmonds - women's 100m hurdles

2:16 p.m. - Elaine Thompson, Veronica Campbell Brown, Christania Williams - women's 100m

2:34 p.m. - Omar McLeod - men's 110m hurdles

2:52 p.m. - Julian Forte - men's 200m