LONDON — Olympic champion Omar McLeod collected Jamaica’s first gold medal at the 2017 IAAF world championships on Monday after he restored the nation’s sprint pride by winning the men’s 110-meter hurdles.
McLeod entered the championships as the overwhelming race favorite and he ran a near clean race over the hurdles to clock in 13.04 seconds and added the world title to the Olympic and World Indoor crowns he won last year.
Monday’s win also saw the 23-year-old improving from his 6th place finish in 2015 and made up for the 3rd place finish of Usain Bolt in the men’s 100m and Elaine Thompson’s shocking 5th place finish in the women’s race.
“I really wanted to keep the Jamaican flag flying,” McLeod said after the race.
“This one is so special, honestly. There was a lot of pressure coming in, but I channeled it positively.
“It’s totally different to last year (in Rio) when we had Usain and Elaine winning, which I used to propel me.
“I didn’t have that this time so I really wanted to come out and shine my own light.”
Defending champion Sergey Shubenkov of Russia, competing as a neutral athlete, picked up the silver medal in 13.14.
Shubenkov said afterwards: “The Jamaican is just too fast.”
Shubenkov was competing as an ‘authorized neutral athlete’ because the Russian federation is still banned from international athletics.
“I’m so frustrated. I struggled over the last few hurdles but was leading for the first half so that’s the frustration,” he added.
“I’m just happy to be competing at the world championships and to get a medal. Last year was a disaster, not just because of the Russian ban, so I’m happy to be back winning a world medal.”
The bronze medal went to Balazs Baji of Hungary in 13.28, while 2012 Olympic champion and world record holder
of the United States finished fifth in 13.30.
“I can barely believe what has happened,” a delighted Baji said.
“A bronze is way beyond expectations. It’s a dream come true.”
Merritt won his Olympic title in the same stadium and was hoping for a repeat.
It wasn’t to be, but the 32-year-old was happy to make his comeback after undergoing a kidney transplant.
“It feels great to be back in London where I won Olympic gold. The crowd greeted me very warmly. Of course, I am not happy to be in lane nine but just being in the stadium is enough for me,” Merritt said.
“I am not even meant to be running, so I’m more happy to be here than not be here. I am back on the world stage, that’s the main thing.”
McLeod’s teammate Hansle Parchment was eighth in 13.37.