Omar McLeod lived up to every expectation placed on his young and surprisingly slender shoulders – at least for a top-class hurdler – when he defeated a classy 110m hurdles field and improved his own world lead to 13.05 at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha on Friday (6).
McLeod – who recently also ran 9.99 to become the first man to run 100m in under 10 seconds and the 110m hurdles in under 13 seconds, his career best being 12.97 – pulled away from his rivals to finish 0.05 clear of his Jamaican compatriot Hansle Parchment, who was second in 13.10.
However, it was a far from perfect run from McLeod, leaving the world indoor champion slightly frustrated, despite his ebullient grinning demeanour as the cameras panned to him when the hurdlers were being introduced and his big smile after the finish.
“My start could have been better, and I hit several hurdles,” said McLeod, who only celebrated his 22nd birthday 11 days ago. "I’ll go back and watch the video of this race and work out what I need to improve on before (the next IAAF Diamond League meeting in) Shanghai."
Behind the Jamaican pair, Spain’s fast-starting Orlando Ortega finished third in a national record of 13.12 in his first outdoor race of the year while USA’s 2013 world champion David Oliver, a crowd favourite in Doha after winning on the past three occasions the 110m hurdles was staged, was fourth in 13.16.
McLeod’s victory vied with wins by Tori Bowie in the women’s 100m and Almaz Ayana in the women’s 3000m as the track highlight of the night.
Bowie produced an impressive meeting record, winning in a world-leading equal PB of 10.80 to beat a classy field.
The 2015 US champion got a solid start, with no one showing particularly out of the blocks, but then started to go through the gears from 30 metres.
World 200m champion Dafne Schippers was well back at the halfway point before starting to claw back the deficit but Bowie held her form and poise to hold off the Dutch sprinter, who clocked 10.83, the equal-second-fastest time of her career.
Two-time Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown also went under 11 seconds, finishing third in 10.91.
Ayana claimed on Thursday that she wasn’t fully fit yet after struggling with left knee problems in the wake of her triumphant 2015 season, which included a World Championships 5000m win.
However, there was no evidence of it as she took up the running with 1000m to go in the 3000m and crossed the line in a world-leading 8:23.11, just shy of her Ethiopian outdoor record of 8:22.22 set last year.
After the first pacemaker Tamara Tverdostup towed the field through 1000m in 2:47.57, exactly the time requested, Mary Kuria let the pace drop slightly over the next two laps. Ayana clearly sensed this and took up the running just before the 2000m mark had been reached, and there was never a serious challenge to her.
She had built up a 20-metre lead with two laps to go, an advantage that doubled by the finish line.
With a better pace by Kuria on the third and fourth lap, there is little doubt that Ayana’s winning time would have been significantly faster as she finished full of running despite the hot and humid night.
Behind Ayana, Kenya’s Mercy Cherono won the battle for second place from Ethiopia’s Gelete Burka, the pair clocking 8:26.36 and 8:28.49 respectively while Kenya’s world 10,000m champion Vivian Cheruiyot showed admirable speed for a runner targeting longer distances nowadays and came home fourth in 8:31.86, her best time over the distance since 2009.