Olympic gold medalist Omar McLeod set a Jamaican national record of in the 110 meter hurdles Saturday with a blistering time of 12.90 seconds during the 2017 Jamaican track and field championships.
McLeod says he is dedicating the next few weeks to setting is sights on Aries Merritt’s world record of 12.80 seconds which he hopes to break before the London World Championships in August.
“I did not get it, so I am going after it next time,” said McLeod, who has races in Paris and Budapest meets before traveling to London.
McLeod’s time on Saturday eclipsed the previous Jamaican record of 12.94 seconds set by Hansle Parchment in 2014 in Paris.
McLeod has been having a fantastic last two seasons where he won the World Indoors 60m and Olympic games gold medals five months apart. He also shaved .07 seconds off his previous personal best time.
“It was a great race,” said McLeod, who credits his new coach Edrick Floreal with rekindling his enthusiasm for the sport.
“The coach wanted a 12.8 and I know he will be a little upset. But I can tell him I set a national record of 12.90 and am now the fifth fastest man in history.”
Indeed, McLeod now has the top four times in the world so far this year and lowered his previous career best of 13.01 seconds. He is tied for fifth best all time with American Dominique Arnold and trails only Merritt, Cuba’s Dayron Robles, China’s Liu Xiang and American David Oliver.
The sky is the limit for McLeod who will be seeking to make up for his disappointing 2015 World Championships in Beijing, China where he finished sixth.
“I am just really excited about what is to come. A new coach made me fall in love with hurdles again so it is a good thing,” he said.
Ronald Levy, the second fastest in the world so far, was second in 13.13 seconds while Parchment, running with an injury, took third place in 13.19 seconds.
Speedster Yohan Blake is on course for the sprint double after qualifying the 200m finals on Sunday, winning his semi-final heat in 20.30 seconds in his first 200m race of the season.
Commonwealth Games champion Rasheed Dwyer was the fastest qualifier after he won his heat in 20.16 seconds while World and Olympic medalist Warren Weir also advanced.
Discus thrower Fedric Dacres retained his Jamaican title with 66.52 meter toss while London Olympian Traves Smikle was second with 63.26m.
Both 400m finals are set for Sunday with all the top contenders qualifying for the deciding races.
Demish Gaye is unbeaten all year and has dropped his times significantly as he won his semi-final heat in 45.26 seconds Saturday while Nathon Allen also won his heat in 45.49 seconds.
NCAA collegiate champion Chrisann Gordon has thrown down the gauntlet among the women in the 400m after lowering her personal best to 50.32 seconds. World and Olympic medalist Shericka Williams finished in 50.48 seconds.
Novlene Williams Mills, in her final national championships, Christine Day and Stephenie-Ann McPherson are all top contenders.—AFP