Omar McLeod at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 (© Getty Images)
This has not been the most auspicious of starts for the Jamaican team but after Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson both fell by the wayside in the 100m finals, Olympic champion Omar McLeod kept his cool to belatedly open their gold medal account at the IAAF World Championships London 2017 with victory in the 110m hurdles in 13.04.
Jamaica won seven gold medals – and 12 in total – at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing where they dominated the sprint programme. With just one medal on their account heading into the final hour of the fourth day of this year’s championships, the soon-to-be champion admitted there was some external pressure on his shoulders ahead of the final.
"There was a lot of pressure coming in but I channelled it positively,” said McLeod. “It's totally different to last year where 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.”
McLeod and Bolt could also join forces at the end of the championships in the 4x100m. McLeod is the only sub-13-second hurdler in history to have broken the 10-second barrier for 100m and after the semifinals, he said he might be brought into the fray on Saturday.
While the 100m finals were fraught with surprises, this final played out according to the formbook. McLeod led the world lists with 12.90 from the Jamaican Championships ahead of reigning champion Sergey Shubenkov – second on the world list with 13.01 – and McLeod defeated Shubenkov for the title by 0.10.
Shubenkov had a real battle just to make the final and after being drawn in the ninth lane in the semifinal, he found himself away from the action again on the inside lane after only qualifying on time. He put up a stern defence of his title, taking silver in 13.14 to go alongside his gold medal from 2015 and his bronze medal from 2013.
Hungary’s medal haul in World Championships history before tonight stood at 11 in total – consisting of eight in the throws, two in the combined events and one in the pole vault – but Balazs Baji claimed their first ever medal on the track with bronze in 13.28.
And as for Aries Merritt, the 2012 Olympic champion and world record-holder was just pleased to be in a position to contest another world final less than two years after undergoing kidney transplant surgery.
"I am not even meant to be running, so I'm more happy to be here than not be here” said Merritt, who was fifth in 13.31. “I am back on the world stage, that's the main thing,”
Steven Mills for the IAAF