Omar McLeod took Jamaica’s dominance of the sprint events to a new level on Tuesday (16 July) when he clinched his country’s first ever gold medal in the Olympic Games men’s 110m hurdles.
With triple Olympic 100m champion Usain Bolt and newly-crowned women’s sprint champion Elaine Thompson leading the way, Jamaica has become the biggest global power in short distances on the track. But until Tuesday at the Olympic Stadium in Rio, the country had never produced an Olympic champion in the men’s or women’s high hurdles.
McLeod changed that with a confident, flowing performance. The 22-year-old Jamaican was comfortably ahead after the last hurdle and finished in 13.05 seconds, ahead of Spain’s Orlando Ortega and France’s Dimitri Bascou, who clocked 13.17 and 13.24 respectively.
The race was the highlight of a day in which Canada’s Derek Drouin snatched high jump gold away from favourite Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar when he cleared 2.38m. Barshim took the silver (2.36m), his country’s best medal result in any sport, ahead of bronze medallist Bohdan Bondarenko of Ukraine, who cleared 2.33.
Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, a world silver medallist in 2015, burst away from the rest of the field with 200m remaining to win the women’s 1500m in four minutes and 8.92 seconds, ahead of world champion Genzebe Dibaba, who clocked 4:10.27. American Jennifer Simpson took the bronze in 4:10.53.
In the morning session, Christian Taylor and Will Claye completed another gold and silver sweep for the USA in the triple jump, emulating their feat at London 2012. Taylor successfully defended his title with a season-leading jump of 17.86m and Claye finished runner-up again with a personal best of 17.76 metres. China’s Dong Bin took bronze with 17.58m.
Claye then jumped into the stands and proposed to his girlfriend, American hurdler Queen Harrison, who said yes.
Sandra Perkovic of Croatia also matched her performance from London 2012, winning the women’s discus with a third-round throw of 69.21m. France’s Melina Robert-Michon took silver with 66.73 with Cuban Denia Caballero winning the bronze with 65.34.