McLeod wins 110m hur­dles for Ja­maica

Charis­matic McLeod might one day emerge as heir to Bolt’s throne

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

New worlds

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.

JOHN SI­B­LEY / REUTERS

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.

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