Amaz­ing year for McLeod

The Star (Jamaica) - - FRONT PAGE - HU­BERT LAWRENCE STAR Writer

Sports­man of the Year nom­i­nee Omar McLeod de­scribed 2016 as an amaz­ing year after win­ning the 110 me­tres hur­dles at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I need to go back and just re­cite it a cou­ple times, say­ing, ‘You’re an Olympic cham­pion,” he told jour­nal­ists in Rio.

The 22-year-old McLeod, Ja­maica’s first ever Olympic cham­pion in the sprint hur­dles, won’t be watch­ing the high­lights of his 2016 sea­son alone as sports fans will de­light in ev­ery mo­ment with him.

It started with an un­de­feated in­door sea­son. 60-me­tre hur­dle wins in Fayet­teville, Arkansas, and in New York served as tune-ups for a stun­ning vic­tory at the World In­door Cham­pi­onships. His win­ning time equalled the world lead­ing per­for­mance of 7.41 sec­onds and set a new na­tional in­door record.

GOLDEN DEED

It was the only gold medal gar­nered by Ja­maica at the Cham­pi­onships.

“I’m not sur­prised,” he said, when the golden deed was done. A spec­tac­u­lar ses­sion of back­ground train­ing had laid a strong foun­da­tion.

“Coach told me that we have a spec­tac­u­lar fall, one of the best falls ever,” McLeod re­called in an in­ter­view with the re­spected US pub­li­ca­tion Track and Field News, “and he said, you just need to go out and own the hur­dles.”

He opened his out­door sea­son with a 100-me­tre race timed in 9.99 sec­onds on April 23, be­com­ing the first man to have per­sonal bests be­low 10 in the flat sprint and 13 in the hur­dles. When he got back to hur­dling with times of 13.06. 12.98, and 13.05 sec­onds in the month of May, Mau­rice Wig­nall, 2006 Com­mon­wealth cham­pion and two-time Olympic fi­nal­ist, took no­tice. “McLeod has the po­ten­tial to re­ally do great things, world record type things,” said Wig­nall in June.

De­spite fall­ing in Monaco and at the Ist­van Gyu­lai Memo­rial be­fore the Olympics, McLeod con­firmed Wig­nall’s pro­jec­tion with a his­toric-mak­ing win in Rio. Those mishaps and rainy heats dic­tated a safety-first ap­proach at the Olympics, which he won in 13.05 sec­onds with Or­lando Ortega of Spain sec­ond and Dim­itri Bas­cou of France third.

Omar McLeod

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