Jamaica’s Rio Olympics 110-metre hurdles gold medallist, Omar McLeod, who decided to test his speed among world class sprinters; should be very happy with the 10.12 secs timing he returned in the feature 100-metre at the International Administration for Athletics Federation (IAAF) Zurich Diamond League meet, held at the Letzigrund Stadium on Thursday (September 1).
McLeod must have been aiming for a sub-10 clocking, but in such a high quality group of world class sprinters, McLeod should take much pride about the fast time returned and his sixth place ahead of the experienced Dutchman, Churandy Martina, who finished in seventh spot with 10.13 secs to his name and especially American Michael Rodgers who placed ninth in 10.15s.
Martina has been in terrific form and was finalist in the Rio Olympics and to be beaten by a high-hurdler, is not something he would want to talk about.
It should also be noted that Rodgers had clocked fifteen “sub-10s” during the 2015 season and equalled Jamaica’s former world record holder Asafa Powell’s record of being the first person to achieve that distinction in a calendar year.
Great Britain’s leading sprinter, Chijindu Ujah, was eighth in 10.15 secs.
In the Zurich DL 100m, Powell led home the sprinters with 9.94 secs (his World record 97th Sub-10) and was followed by South Africa’s champion, Akani Simbine (9.99), Ivory Coast’s Ben Yousef Meiti (9.99), Kittitian Kim Collins (10.10) and Great Britain’s Adam Gemili (10.11).
Earlier in the 2016 season and one day short of his 22nd birthday, McLeod became the 108th athlete to register a ‘Sub-10 sec’ in the 100m dash. He clocked 9.99 secs for the flat race at Fayetteville on April 24.
That’s a tremendous feat by a high-hurdler and he entered his name into the athletics record books by becoming the first athlete to clock a ‘sub-13’ in the 110m hurdles and ‘sub-10’ in the 100m flat race.
All coaches admire those athletes who challenge themselves to master more than one specialty and become versatile to fit into the scheme of things that will redound to the benefit of the athletes themselves on the long term basis.
McLeod is definitely on the right track and he seemed determined to prepare himself for future challenges among the fastest sprinters parading their speed prowess among the elite world class competitors at global championships.
A closer look at the Zurich 100m race, will show that he got out very quickly from the blocks and maintained good position alongside Powell up to the seventy-five metre mark. That’s a tremendous achievement, but he just did not have the top end speed and co-ordination to propel him into a better position and even another ‘sub-10’ recording and probably a sensational victory.
But he made Powell work harder than usual through the middle and top-end of the 100m. It was that challenge that pushed his more established compatriot to return 9.94 secs and collect 20 points and the overall Diamond League Trophy and overall bonus of US$40,000. Powell should be gracious enough to share a little of the bonus with young McLeod for his providing the impetus to fight for the win that propelled him above Meiti and Simbine.
Flat race sprinting is different from high-hurdle racing. Both types of racing require different preparation and arm-leg co-ordination but it would have boosted his confidence to take on these superstars, who pride themselves in showing off who are the fastest athletes on the planet.
Just like what the world’s greatest sprinter Usain St Leo Bolt did and got his coach to agree with him to challenge himself to become the best and to dominate his rivals is such commanding fashion in the shorter sprints, McLeod should be encouraged to race among these guys more often and believe that he can give them a run for their money and achieve global glory.
Having already proven himself as a world champion hurdler, McLeod has great qualities and right attitude to become a world class sprinter.
He should be encouraged to channel his explosive speed and fighting qualities to become a superstar in track sprinting. I honestly believe he can achieve super stardom.
He should spend another year mastering the craft of speed hurdling and go for the world record and a chance to do the double and be crowned world champion at next year’s IAAF World Championships in England.
And then he should try his luck among the flat racers.
Jamaica’s newest “Golden Boy” has everything to rise to the top and become another crowd favourite like Bolt and newly crowned “Global Sprint Queen” Elaine Thompson who will keep Jamaica’s flag high.