McLeod rebounds

McLeod rebounds Williams, Blake, Bloomfield also win at Muller Grand Prix

Observer writer

Monday, August 19, 2019

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Jamaica's defending World and Olympic champion Omar McLeod, who has struggled at times this season, declared that he will not be giving up his IAAF World Championships title without a fight, after winning the 110-metre hurdles at the Muller Grand Prix at Alexander Stadium in Birmingham, England, yesterday.

McLeod, who recently changed coaches and is now based in Florida, was one of four Jamaicans to win their events at the meet, including world leader Danielle Williams with a dominant display in the 100m hurdles, Yohan Blake in the men's 100m and 400m runner Akeem Bloomfield.

After a relatively easy run, winning in 13.21 seconds (-0.2m/s) to beat American Freddie Crittenden (13.31secs) and China's Xie Wenjun (13.43secs), McLeod, who is now taking orders from coach Rana Reider, said he was “in a happy place” and anyone who wanted his title had to “come through a wall”.

“It was nice to make up for what happened in London. I'm in a new environment with a new coach and I feel like I'm ready to go again,” McLeod noted as he described the race as pretty easy.

After getting a bye to the IAAF World Championships in Doha, being the defending champion, McLeod said he needed to get to the championships that starts in late September, “in the best possible shape and not being half-bothered about it. Anything can happen and I need to go there as defending champion and be ready to compete”.

Before that, however, he said he had other business to take care of.

“I have the Diamond League finals prior to Doha, so I need to be ready for that.”

Williams continued her rampage this season, equalling the meet record 12.46 seconds (-0.2m/s) to beat world record holder Kendra Harrison, as the American clocked 12.66 seconds, with Nigeria's Tobi Amusan third in 12.71 seconds. Janeek Brown, the other Jamaican in the event, was fifth in 12.99 seconds.

Williams, who was given a reprieve by the Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association last week, reversing their decision to exclude her from selection to the Doha World Championships after her false start at the June National Championships, said being consistent was her goal, despite not executing too well on this occasion.

“Every time I've been racing I've been consistent with my times and that is the main thing for me.

“To be honest I didn't execute that properly. I banged my knee on one of the hurdles, but I came away with the win so I'm happy. It wasn't that important to win, this is another race on the way to the Diamond League finals and whether I won or lost, execution was my only focus,” she said.

Harrison lost her season-long winning streak at the meet, as she was beaten into fourth in the semi-finals, after hitting a number of hurdles, finished in 12.93 seconds and only qualified on time.

Two other Jamaicans, Megan Tapper (13.07secs) and Yanique Thompson (13.19secs), failed to get beyond the first round.

Blake, who was edged in the semis, had the last laugh, as he won the 100m final in a blanket finish with the entire field separated by 100th of a second. He clocked 10.07 seconds (2.0m/s), the same time as second-placed Adam Gemili of England, while Pan American Games champion Michael Rodgers was third in 10.09 seconds.

Jamaica's Tyquendo Tracey was sixth in 10.14 seconds.

“It was good, it was coming. The weather wasn't great, but I'm saving the big day for the World Championships and the Diamond League final in Zurich,” said Blake. He added: “The time is not bad under the circumstances. I can run faster than that and training has been good.”

Meanwhile, Bloomfield's run saw him qualify for the final of the men's 400m and leaves him in contention for a wild card entry to the World Championships after he skipped the event at the Jamaican championships.

He followed up his 400m win in London in July with another win in 45.04 seconds, comfortably ahead of the American Obi Igbokwe (45.53secs) and Great Britain's Matthew Hudson-Smith (45.55secs).

National champion and Pan American Games medallist Demish Gaye was sixth in 45.64 seconds, and Nathon Allen eighth in 46.90 seconds.

Bloomfield was happy with the win.

“I feel OK. I got the win, but that's all I can take from that. The eight points put me in the Diamond League final and that's the big positive. My coach told me to get out and finish as high as possible and so for that I'm very happy,” he shared.

Pan American Games record holder Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce had to be content with a third-place finish in a 200m race that had quality in all eight lanes and could have been a final at a global championship.

Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo extended her two-year unbeaten run in the half-lap event with victory in 22.24 seconds (0.4m/s) coming from well behind in the last 60 metres to leave the field in her wake.

British sprint queen Dina Asher-Smith, who led coming off the bend, was second in 22.36 seconds, as Fraser-Pryce was uncharacteristically left in the blocks, but finished third in 22.50 seconds.

Kemar Mowatt looked well on his way to winning the men's 400m hurdles and avenging his loss to Brazilian teenager Alison Santos at the Pan American Games, but hit the final barrier hard and faded to fourth in 49.56 seconds.

Turkey's Yasmani Copello finished strong to win in 49.08 seconds, ahead of Santos, who lost for the first time this season after winning at the World Student Games, Pan American Under-20 and Pan American Games.

Pan American champion Natoya Goule was also well placed late in the women's 800m, but faded badly in the last 60 metres and finished sixth in 2:02.70 minutes.

American Ajee Wilson, who is now a medal favourite for Doha, won in 2:00.76 minutes, ahead of Great Britain's Lynsey Sharpe (2:01.09) and USA's Raevyn Rogers (2:01.40).

Finally, Jonielle Smith, who missed the Pan American Games with an injury and was racing for the first time in weeks, was seventh in the women's 100m in 11.37 seconds (0.9m/s), as German double sprint champion Tatjana Pinto came from behind to win in 11.15 seconds, just ahead of the American pair of Dezerea Bryant (11.21secs) and Teahna Daniels (11.24secs).

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