McLeod wins 110m hurdles for Jamaica
Charismatic McLeod might one day emerge as heir to Bolt’s throne
LONDON — As Usain Bolt takes his leave of athletics and the sport hunts for a charismatic new trailblazer to replace him, another Jamaican, Omar McLeod, demonstrated on Monday why he might fit the bill by winning the 110m hurdles title.
He’s young, cool, bright, very fast and likes to refer to himself as “Mr Silk” due to his smooth hurdling technique.
After a weekend of disappointment for Jamaica following the 100m sprint losses by Bolt and Elaine Thompson, 23-year-old McLeod chose the perfect night to bound headlong to world championship glory and cheer up his nation.
“Happy Independence Day, Jamaica! I love you guys!” he declared with a laugh, recognizing that everyone was watching him on the Caribbean island’s public holiday as he became the first man since American Allen Johnson in 1997 to pull off the Olympics/World Championships 110m hurdles double in successive years.
“I’m elated, completely overcome with emotion and I especially wanted to dedicate this win to Usain. I felt it was up to me out there to bring the boost back to Jamaica and I think I’ve done that.”
Yet while he saluted his hero Bolt, who could only claim bronze in his final individual 100m, McLeod also looked and sounded every inch the sort of talismanic figure that could swiftly ensure Jamaica has a new male superstar to savor.
After comfortably defeating what he considered the best 110m hurdles field in history in 13.04 seconds, the US-based speedster made it clear that he felt this was just the beginning of something even more spectacular.
Nobody is suggesting Bolt is anything but irreplaceable, but here is an athlete who actually has strings to his bow that even the great Usain never had.
Not only is McLeod already the only man to have run both under 10 seconds over 100m and under 13 for the 110m hurdles, he can spread his talent across events as varied as the 400m hurdles and the 200m.
Next year, he declared after his victory, would be the time to see him spread his wings.
“I’ve got new worlds to con- quer now,” he beamed.
“I really, really want that (110m hurdles) world record now so we’ ll see what happens next.”
The man who holds the 12.80sec mark he is after, Aries Merritt of the US, could only manage a fifth-place finish in the final, so the future of the event now looks to lie at McLeod’s quicksilver feet.
He is the only top high hurdler still taking eight steps to reach the first hurdle and, though he was planning to move down to seven this season, he put that plan back to next year to ensure he did not mess with his world title aspirations.
Next year, though, he will definitely experiment.
“It was probably the best lineup in history tonight. I knew in order to win I had to do it the Omar McLeod way,” he said.
“I had to bring my own spark back. I had to get out and take control of the race. And just go out and have fun. And I did that.”
There was, he said, another special reason to deliver.
“My mother is here, so I had to do it for her,” he said, after giving her a big hug at trackside.
In Bolt’s absence, McLeod looks to be a breath of fresh air for the sport.
Omar McLeod of Jamaica thunders across the finish line to win the 110m hurdles final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in London on Monday.