Omar McLeod en route to winning the 110m hurdles at the 2016 IAAF Diamond League meeting in Shanghai (© Errol Anderson)
Jamaica’s Omar McLeod, the IAAF World Indoor Championships Portland 2016 60m hurdles gold medallist and Kenya’s 2015 400m hurdles world champion Nicholas Bett head the men’s hurdles fields at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Eugene on Saturday (28).
The men’s 110m hurdles is not a Diamond Race discipline at the Prefontaine Classic this year but will still attract a lot of attention thanks to the presence of McLeod.
After his win in nearby Portland in March, he opened up his outdoor campaign with a 9.99 100m to make him history's only man under both the 10-second and 13-second barriers, for the 100m and 110m hurdles respectively.
The 22-year old McLeod leads the Diamond race after wins at the IAAF Diamond League meetings in Doha and Shanghai earlier this month.
Among his rivals in Eugene will be the amazing Aries Merritt.
The London 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist and world record holder is returning from kidney transplant surgery just days after winning a bronze medal at last year’s world championships in Beijing.
France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, 24, has won the last two Pre Classic titles in this event and has a best of 12.95 while USA’s 2013 world champion David Oliver, now 34, is a three-time winner of the Diamond Race – in 2010, 2013, and 2015 – and a two-time Pre Classic winner with his 2010 victory in 12.90 still standing as the meeting record.
Hansle Parchment, 25, is the Jamaican record holder at 12.94, a time that McLeod is aiming for, and he earned the Olympic bronze medal in 2012 as well as winning in Eugene in 2012.
The field is completed by the American pair of Jarret Eaton and Jeff Porter as well as Canada’s Johnathan Cabral.
Bett and Jeffery Gibson of the Bahamas will be the focus of many curious eyes in the 400m hurdles, arriving in Eugene as the gold and bronze medallists from last summer’s world championships in Beijing., with the latter also winning the Pan American Games title.
Bershawn Jackson, 33, knows the Hayward Field track well as the Pre Classic’s only two-time winner in this event, having taken the honours in 2005 and 2009, and the 2005 world champion had his best season for several years and also took the Diamond Race in 2015.
Kerron Clement, 30, also had his best last year since 2010 in 2015, the two-time world champion just missing the bronze medal in Beijing by 0.01 to Gibson.
Another American, 2012 Olympics and 2013 world championships silver medallist Michael Tinsley, 32, is another Diamond Race winner, taking the 2014 title.
Puerto Rico’s experienced Javier Culson, Turkey’s Yasmani Copello and Switzerland’s reigning European champion Kariem Hussein occupy the other three lanes.
Organisers for the IAAF
2016 IAAF Diamond League calendar
6 May – Doha, QAT
14 May – Shanghai, CHN
22 May – Rabat, MAR
28 May – Eugene, USA
2 Jun – Rome, ITA
5 Jun – Birmingham, GBR
9 Jun – Oslo, NOR
16 Jun – Stockholm, SWE
15 Jul – Monaco, MON
22-23 Jul – London, GBR
25 Aug – Lausanne, SUI
27 Aug – Paris, FRA
1 Sep – Zurich, SUI
9 Sep – Brussels, BEL