Fri | Jun 18, 2021

McLeod the perfectionist

Olympic hurdles champion produces flawless run but promises faster times

Published:Friday | June 11, 2021 | 12:12 AMRaymond Graham/Gleaner Writer
MCLEOD
MCLEOD

Reigning Olympic Games 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod was in impeccable form at the Wanda Diamond League Golden Gala in Rome, Italy, yesterday. He produced a meet record (MR) and world-leading time of 13.01 seconds to win the race. On a day...

Reigning Olympic Games 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod was in impeccable form at the Wanda Diamond League Golden Gala in Rome, Italy, yesterday.

He produced a meet record (MR) and world-leading time of 13.01 seconds to win the race.

On a day when there were several meet records and season’s bests (SB), McLeod sent out a strong message to his rivals that he is ready to retain his Olympic title with a near flawless performance.

Possibly his cleanest race ever, he did not hit a single barrier. He was out of the blocks very quickly for a clinical performance as he won going away from his rivals.

Andrew Pozzi (13.25s) of Great Britain (GB), and Wilhem Belocian (13.31s) of France produced SBs for second and third, respectively.

Naturally, McLeod, who went by the United States of America’s Grant Holloway’s previous world lead of 13.07s, was pleased with his performance and promised much faster times.

“It feels good to be winning again,” McLeod said in a post-race interview. “I am having fun again. It was a really good race. I put together a technically sound race. I did not hit a hurdle. The time is close to 13 seconds, and I will get under 13 seconds when the time is right.”

McLeod’s personal best stands at 12.90s.

VINTAGE PERFORMANCE

It was also a vintage performance in the women’s 100m hurdles as world leader Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico produced another sub 12.40s. Camacho-Quinn, whose only blemish so far this season came two weeks ago when she was disqualified for false starting in Jacksonville, Florida, stopped the clock in an MR of 12.38s to erase the 41-year-old-record. The Bahamas’ Devynne Charlton was second in 12.80s while it was an SB 12.85s for third-place finisher Elvira Herman of Belarus while Jamaica’s Megan Tapper was fourth in 12.94s.

Two other female athletes, GB’s Dina Asher-Smith and the Netherlands’ Sifan Hassan, produced MRs on the day.

Asher-Smith, the 200m world champion, blew away her rivals in the half-lap event to win in an SB 22.06s and in the process erased the 22-year-old record. Only the Bahamas’ Shaunae Miller-Uibo, with a 22.03s clocking in April, has gone faster than the Briton this season. Marie-Josée Ta Lou’s consistency continued with an SB of 22.58s for second, and Switzerland’s Mujinga Kambundji placed third in 22.60s. Former world champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands continued her struggle this season with a sixth-place finish in 23.03s.

In a very exciting 1,500m contest, world champion Hassan, fresh off her 10,000m performance, which produced a world record on Sunday (which was eventually broken two days later), had to dig deep to hold off Olympic champion Faith Kipyegon of Kenya. Hassan prevailed in a meet record and world leading 3:53.63 minutes while it was a personal best and national record of 3:53.91 minutes for Kipyegon as GB’s Laura Muir took third in an SB 3:55.59 minutes.

In the final event of the meet, South Africa’s Akani Simbine won the men’s 100m sprint in 10.08s. GB’s Chijindu Ujah was second in 10.10s, and Liberia’s Emmanuel Matadi placed third in 10.16s.

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