By Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis, Special to TrackAlerts.Com
Omar McLeod is without a doubt Jamaica’s best 110m hurdler this season. He celebrated his birthday on April 25th in fine style with a personal best of 13.21 seconds (+1.7 m/s) at the 2015 Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa. McLeod has been in spanking form all year over the hurdles for the University of Arkansas. In February, he stormed to victory in the 60m hurdles (7.49) at the 2015 SEC Indoor Track & Field Championship in Lexington, Kentucky.
The following month he added the NCAA Division One Indoor Track & Field 60m hurdles title in 7.45 seconds. In May, he claimed the 110m hurdles title in 13.28 (+1.9 m/s) at the SEC Championship in Mississippi. As mentioned earlier he ran his personal best in April, a time he almost equalled at the NCAA Division One West Regional, when he won in 13.22 seconds. However, McLeod was not finished yet and he crowned himself king of college 110m hurdles in Eugene, Oregon with the NCAA Division One Outdoor title in a wind-assisted 13.01 seconds (+3.9 m/s).
Only six men have run faster than the Jamaican has this year (at the time of writing). McLeod will be coming to the National Senior Championship with a clear mandate to maintain his unbeaten streak and to add another title to his impressive collection.
Andrew Riley, just like McLeod, had an outstanding NCAA career climaxing with his historic victories in the 100m and 110m hurdles in the same year (2012) for the University of Illinois. Riley has been one of Jamaica’s most consistent 110m hurdlers in recent times representing the country at the last two World Championships and the London Olympics. One of Riley’s proudest moments was when he won gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland in 13.32 seconds.
Riley, the defending National Champion, has been very busy this season on the Diamond League circuit with a season best of 13.28 seconds (+1.5 m/s) at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon. He will need to be at his best to deny the confident McLeod from taking his crown.
National record holder Hansle Parchment has not been having the best of seasons since his comeback from injury. Parchment placed 5th in a season best 13.40 seconds (-0.6 m/s) at the Drake Relays on April 24, 2015. He followed up that performance with a fourth place finish in 13.47 seconds (+1.0 m/s) at the Jamaica International Invitational Meet on May 9, 2015. Parchment won the Cayman Invitational on May 16, 2015 in 13.49 seconds (0.4 m/s). He has not competed in the 2015 Diamond League series against his main rivals, which has caused some concerns among his fans. Parchment may yet qualify for Beijing; however, it would be encouraging if his times improve.
Dwight Thomas is a multi-talented athlete on the comeback trail. The veteran hurdler who has been through a lot over the past two seasons will be seeking to make his fourth World Championship team competing in this event. Jamaicans are hoping that Thomas who ran a season best 13.42 seconds (+0.4 m/s) at the Florida Relays on April 3, 2015 will remain injury free.
National junior record holder, Tyler Mason, will relish the experience of competing against the big boys. The 20-year-old, who recently turned professional, was a runner-up to Hansle Parchment at the Cayman Invitational meet in a personal best 13.61 seconds (+0.4 m/s) over the high hurdles. At the fifth and final JAAA All Comers Meet, Mason ran unchallenged registering 13.62 seconds (+0.3 m/s). Mason will have to raise his game as he could find the pace and quality of opponents slightly more challenging at the National Senior Championship.
It is never easy choosing a winner in an obstacle event; however, it would take a brave person to bet against McLeod marching towards his first national title based on his current form.
About the Author:
Noel ‘Bravo’ Francis is a very exciting and creative freelance sports writer specializing in the fields of athletics and cricket. His colourful down to earth yet professional personality makes him a favourite amongst athletes and fans. Readers are often exposed to his detailed knowledge and passion which usually increase their interest in the athletes, events and the sport overall. He has a first degree in Banking & Finance and works in the financial industry. Contact Noel at firstname.lastname@example.org