This is the sad story of Omar McLeod.
Omar McLeod is the 2016 Olympic gold medalist, the 2016 World Indoor Gold medalist and the 2017 Lonodon World Outdoor gold medalist at the sprint hurdles. Outdoors, Omar dominated the 110m hurdles, and the 60m indoors indoors.
And then came 2019 and Omar fell in Doha, as Grant Holloway took the gold. In 2021, Grant Holloway set WR indoors and ran 12.81. Holloway and McLeod should be a big race.
In 2021, one of the track races to watch is the Tokyo Olympic 110m hurdles, and we hoped to see Grant Holloway and Omar McLeod. Grant will be there, but Omar will not.
The Jamaican authorities did not select McLeod, as he fell in the Trials. The difference is, that they had to give Usain Bolt a selection when he was sick and dominating his event. They did not seem to appreciate that Omar Mc
Stuart Weir tells the story…
Not bound for Tokyo
There was an undercurrent at Gateshead. There were two types of athletes in the meet. Some were buzzing in their final competition before the Olympics and for some the first Olympics. For others, they had seen the dream of Olympic selection snatched from them leaving them to try to salvage something from the rest of the season. One such was Omar McLeod, the reigning Olympic champion in the 110m hurdles. He had not come in the top three at the Jamaican trials and had not been selected for Tokyo. In Gateshead, he was second in the race in 13.42 behind fellow Jamaican, Ronald Levy,
At the pre-race press conference he did not hide his feelings, saying of the race the next day: “I will go out and do the best that I can but mentally I am not in a good place. I will do the best that I can”.
He made clear his feelings about the Jamaican trials and the process that had denied him a chance to defend his title: “I am very heartbroken. I don’t think I was given a fair opportunity. In all my years of track and field, I have never seen such a ridiculous schedule. We had semi-finals in the late evening – in a country in complete lockdown so that we were unable to go back to the hotel and get food. My team did the best we could and then we had to be back at the track at 5.00am for a final at 8.00am. Why would you treat an event, in which the country has the reigning Olympic champion, like that? I didn’t feel that I had the same opportunity as everyone else to make the team.
“I didn’t have the arrogance not to show up at the trials thinking that I was obligated to make the team. I went there, ready to compete and win my spot in a rightful way. On the morning of the race, I had severe cramp and didn’t know what to do, hoping that my country would give me a medical exemption as they have done in the past, for example, for Usain Bolt, because you couldn’t deny Usain the chance to go to the championship. I thought I was in the same position having won gold medals at the four championships for my country – a historic moment when I became the first Jamaican to win gold at the four championships. I thought I’d be OK. Then my name was not on the list. I am pretty heartbroken”.
He explained that he and his team had met the selectors and had done “everything we possibly could”. He insisted that he had nothing to prove, saying: “I’ve proved that over and over. I went into the national championships as the world leader. I didn’t go to the trials with the audacity to think that they had to pick me. I had competed well and every opportunity I got, I went out and gave a great performance. I was going to treat the trials just the same and my coach and my team and thought I could run something ridiculous but I was robbed [by the schedule] of the chance of running really fast and potentially setting a Jamaican record – because that was the shape I was in going into the trials. I have nothing else to prove. I was ready and I am ready to go and defend that title. And not to have the opportunity is absurd”.
I have written before, and I will say again, that I think there ought to be a system of exceptional wildcards for the reigning champion or someone within, say, the world’s top five. OK, it gives a country an extra athlete. But surely the Olympic final is the poorer without McLeod.