'Champs' record wins highlight of McLeod's career

June 12, 2017
Orlando Ortega (left), from Spain, and Omar McLeod, (right), from Jamaica, compete in the men's 110m hurdles race event at the Athletissima IAAF Diamond League international athletics meeting in the Stade Olympique de la Pontaise in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday, August 25, 2016. (AP Photo)

Olympic sprint hurdles champion Omar McLeod has said that setting national junior records in the 110 metre hurdles and 400 metre hurdles at the 2013 Boys' and Girls' Championships was the defining moment of his short career to date.

"It may sound like a cliche, but that was the moment I became a huge fan of myself and my talents. It was the light-bulb moment when I knew I had the potential to achieve something great," McLeod, who won the Olympic title in Rio last year after also winning the World Indoor Champions 60 hurdles title, told the IAAF.

"I was born for hurdling. When I was younger I would set up buckets in the road and hurdle over them. I'd hurdle over speed bumps. Growing up, my gran always said 'think big' and that's what I did with my hurdling. It is much easier to live with yourself knowing that you tried you best.

"In the lead up to the 2013 'Champs', I changed high schools and moved from Manchester High School to Kingston College because I wanted a hurdles coach, KC Graham. In many ways, it was a huge leap of faith and a big sacrifice to change environment, but I needed a change if I was to perform on the big stage.

"The Champs itself went so well. I set national junior records in both the 110m hurdles at 13.24 and the 400m hurdles at 49.98. I didn't even really like competing at the 400m hurdles, but I dominated.

"Winning the double was very emotional. There is no better feeling than accomplishing something you have worked so hard for.

"Winning the double at Champs propelled me forward for the rest of my career and to the point I am today. It helped me win a scholarship to attend university in the US, where I would get a degree, break college records and eventually become a professional athlete."

Editor's note: KC Graham is a STAR writer.

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