Olympic 110m hurdles champion dominates again on the global stage

Jamaica has not had the greatest start to their IAAF World Championships campaign. Who would have thought they would end the two 100m finals with just a single bronze?

But their Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod was a big favourite, having run a whole tenth quicker than anyone else this year with 12.90.

That level of domination continued in London on Monday as he was a class apart throughout. With a sharp 0.123 reaction time, he soon took control and held his advantage, winning in 13.04 although clearly the cool conditions slowed times a little.

“This one is special, honestly,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure coming in but I channelled it positively. 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.”

Before the event, the defending champion Sergey Shubenkov was actually second in the rankings with a 13.01. The Russian, competing as a neutral athlete, hadn’t looked at his best in qualifying, and he was drawn in the inside lane, but he was always in medal contention and a clear second in 13.14.

“I’m so frustrated,” he said. “I struggled over the last few hurdles.The Jamaican is just too fast. Last year was a disaster and not just because of the Russian ban so I’m happy to be back winning a world medal.”

If another European was challenging for third, the pre-event hope for the home crowd was that it would be Andrew Pozzi, but the Briton just missed out on qualifying as he ran 13.28 in his semi-final.

Incredibly that time would have been good enough for the bronze, but instead the medal went to Hungary’s fast-improving Balazs Baji. Although 28, the European silver medallist was in his first global final and a superb finish bagged him third.

It was the first time that USA had not won a medal.

France’s Garfield Darien achieved his best outdoor performance 10 years after winning the European junior title and was fourth in 13.30.

World record-holder Aries Merritt, who won Olympic gold in this stadium in 2012 and was making a comeback from his kidney transplant shortly after the World Championships in 2015, was in a medal position after eight hurdles but faded near the finish and was fifth in 13.31.

Barbados’ Shane Brathwaite was sixth in 13.32 while Spain’s Olympic silver medallist Orlando Ortega was seventh, while 2012 bronze medallist Hansle Parchment was eighth and last in 13.37, less than a tenth behind the bronze medallist.

In the men’s 400m hurdles semi-finals, Olympic champion Kerron Clement looked to be taking a chance as he was fourth as he crossed the last hurdle but a strong finish gave him a 48.35 victory ahead of Norway’s promising Karsten Warholm, who blazed the first 300m and was second in 48.43.

The second semi was slower but competitive with American TJ Holmes gaining victory in just 49.12, just ahead of Switzerland’s Kariem Hussein’s 49.13.

Britain’s Jack Green finished strongly but he was far too back and his time was 49.93 in fourth was well over a second too slow for a fastest losers spot with a 48.66 required.

The final heat was won by Abderrahaman Samba of Qatar in 48.75 from Olympic bronze medallist Yasmani Copello’s 48.91.

In the women’s 400m hurdles heats, US champion Dalilah Muhammad easily won the opening heat in 54.59.

Defending champion Zuzana Hejnova won the second heat in 55.05 from Olympic medallist Sara Slott Petersen’s 55.23. European under-23 medallist Jessica Turner started well but faded slightly for seventh in 56.98.

Olympic finalist Ristananna Tracey won the third heat easily in 54.92 as American Shamier Little slowed to third in 56.18.

Kori Carter won the fourth heat comfortably in 54.99 with Wanda Nel finishing fast to pip GB team captain Eilidh Doyle whose 55.49 in third gave her a clear qualifying position.

The final heat was won by Switzerland’s Lea Sprunger in 55.14 narrowly ahead of Rhonda White’s 55.18. Britain’s Meghan Beesley started well and faded a little in the straight and got the last hurdle wrong and dropped to sixth in 56.41 but scraped a fastest losers spot by a hundredth of a second.

British sprinters Danny Talbot, Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake and Zharnel Hughes qualified from their 200m heats. The round was missing Isaac Makwala as the Botswanan was one of the victims of a gastroenteritis bug that has affected some teams in London, but the other main contenders progressed, such as Wayde van Niekerk of South Africa, who finished level with Talbot in heat three as both men ran 20.16 – a PB for the Briton.

Mitchell-Blake was quicker, though, with 20.08 – the second fastest time of the round behind Trinidadian Jereem Richards’ 20.05 – while Hughes went through as one of the fastest losers with 20.43.

» Check out our dedicated online section here for more of the London 2017 latest and see the August 10 edition of AW magazine for full coverage