NEWS

HEARTBREAK - Omar McLeod crashes out of 110m hurdles final

HOWARD WALKER
AT THE 17TH IAAF WORLD
ATHLETICS CHAMPIONSHIPS
In DOHA, QATAR

Thursday, October 03, 2019

Doha, Qatar — Jamaica's medal hopes took another blow when Omar McLeod crashed to the turf during the men's 110m hurdles final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships inside Khalifa International Stadium yesterday.

However, Jamaica remained third on the table with four medals, as the United States of America increased its tally to 18 inclusive of eight gold, eight silver and two bronze. China stayed in second with eight medals. Kenya with four and Ethiopia with three medals complete the top five.

McLeod, the reigning Olympic champion and defending world champion, hit a couple of hurdles before spinning to the ground and severely hampering Spain's Orlando Ortega's chance of a medal, and was later disqualified.

The gold was won by promising American Grant Halloway, who had the perfect race and led from gun to tape in 13.10 seconds (0.6 m/s). Authorised Neutral Athlete Sergey Shubenkov, the 2015 champion and 2017 silver medallist, snatched silver once again in 13.15 seconds. France's Pascal Martinot-Lagarde won the bronze in 13.18 seconds.

McLeod, who had the second slowest reaction time, recovered well and was upon the shoulders of Halloway before disaster struck.

Ortega, who was next to him in lane five, tried to avoid the falling McLeod and was left in tears as his medal hopes vanished.

McLeod apologised to the Spaniard in a television interview, and explained that his form was thrown off when “my hamstring grabbed from I came off the first hurdle.

“So I was being very, very tentative and then it started getting worse when I reached the sixth hurdle and I kind of leaped a little bit and that's what caused the issue. But I was ready to go. I showed up ready and put myself in the best situation to defend my title.

“I felt the hamstring in warm-up, but I didn't want to tell anybody as I said, alright it might go away. I came out here and I showed heart. It's very unfortunate that that happened and I am very, very sorry for Ortega because I bounced into him and he could have gotten a medal. But it's just life,” he explained.

The Olympic champion said he didn't apologise to Ortega immediately because both were upset and he didn't know what I could have happened at the time.

“I was upset. He was upset. So I didn't want to cause any commotion or whatever. But I am very sorry and I can't take it back. I wish I could take it back, but it is what it is. It sucks man, it sucks,” he reiterated.

“I am going to move on with my head held high. I put myself in the best situation possible to try to defend my title and ever since my aunt died, things kind of went downhill and I went through a lot and I had the heart to just switch thing around and put myself in the situation to come out here strong,” he added.

McLeod continued: “Hats off to Grant Halloway, he did a great job and that's how it is. Honestly, I have had no time to heal. I put everything on pause and put my emotions, everything on the back burner because I had a title to defend and a lot to live up to.”

But following the disaster McLeod was cheered on by the small band of Jamaicans inside the stadium and he picked himself up, brushed himself off and gingerly walked over to them and showed his appreciation.

“Just to feel that embrace. They knew I showed up and I showed up for them. I just wanted to feel that, win or lose. That feeling of seeing your Jamaican people; that look on their faces, that beaming look, it's just something that takes over, that joy knowing they have your back, regardless. That raw Jamaican love and I just needed to go and embrace that,” he said.

Meanwhile, it is understood that Spain has lodged an appeal claiming that their athlete Orlando Ortega was obstructed during the race while he was in third place at the time.

Team Spain requested that under Rule 163.2 a) either the race be rerun, or the athlete be allowed to compete alone. If that request is not accepted, Team Spain suggest that as a fair sporting gesture, Ortega be awarded the medal corresponding to his position at the time of the obstruction. A ruling will be made later.

Earlier in the semi-finals, McLeod was the only Jamaican to advance to the final. He captured his semi-final in 13.08 seconds (0.9 m/s). Eventual bronze medallist Martinot-Lagarde was second in 13.12.

In semi-final one, both Orlando Bennett and Ronald Levy failed to advance finishing sixth and seventh in 13.60, the same time as fifth-placed Andrew Pozzi of Italy. Halloway won in 13.10. Andrew Riley was fifth in his semi-final in 13.57 behind Ortega in 13.16.

And Rushel Clayton won semi-final two of the women's 400m hurdles in 54.17 seconds to advance to the final. However, compatriot Shiann Salmon, despite running a personal best 55.16 seconds to finish third in her semi-final, failed to advance.