RJR Sportsman, Sportswoman Awards - Amazing year for McLeod
Sportsman of the Year nominee Omar McLeod described 2016 as an amazing year after winning the 110 metres hurdles at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"I need to go back and just recite it a couple times, saying, 'You're an Olympic champion," he told journalists in Rio.
The 22-year-old McLeod, Jamaica's first ever Olympic champion in the sprint hurdles, won't be watching the highlights of his 2016 season alone as sports fans will delight in every moment with him.
It started with an undefeated indoor season. 60-metre hurdle wins in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and in New York served as tune-ups for a stunning victory at the World Indoor Championships. His winning time equalled the world leading performance of 7.41 seconds and set a new national indoor record.
It was the only gold medal garnered by Jamaica at the Championships.
"I'm not surprised," he said, when the golden deed was done. A spectacular session of background training had laid a strong foundation.
"Coach told me that we have a spectacular fall, one of the best falls ever," McLeod recalled in an interview with the respected US publication Track and Field News, "and he said, you just need to go out and own the hurdles."
He opened his outdoor season with a 100-metre race timed in 9.99 seconds on April 23, becoming the first man to have personal bests below 10 in the flat sprint and 13 in the hurdles. When he got back to hurdling with times of 13.06. 12.98, and 13.05 seconds in the month of May, Maurice Wignall, 2006 Commonwealth champion and two-time Olympic finalist, took notice. "McLeod has the potential to really do great things, world record type things," said Wignall in June.
Despite falling in Monaco and at the Istvan Gyulai Memorial before the Olympics, McLeod confirmed Wignall's projection with a historic-making win in Rio. Those mishaps and rainy heats dictated a safety-first approach at the Olympics, which he won in 13.05 seconds with Orlando Ortega of Spain second and Dimitri Bascou of France third.