Omar McLeod at the IAAF World Championships (© Getty Images)
Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod is firmly established as one of the world’s star athletes. Here the Jamaican delves back to the 2013 ‘Champs’ for the pivotal moment in his career development.
“The defining moment in my career came when I completed the 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles double at the Inter-Secondary Schools Boys and Girls Championships – also known as ‘Champs’ – and I set a national junior record in both events.
“It may sound like a cliché, but that was the moment I became a huge fan of myself and my talents. It was the lightbulb moment when I knew I had the potential to achieve something great.
“I was born for hurdling. When I was younger I would set up buckets in the road and hurdle over them. I’d hurdle over speed bumps. Growing up, my gran always said ‘think big’ and that’s what I did with my hurdling. It is much easier to live with yourself knowing that you tried you best.
“In the lead up to the 2013 ‘Champs’, I changed high schools and moved from Manchester High School to Kingston College because I wanted a hurdles coach, KC Graham. In many ways, it was a huge leap of faith and a big sacrifice to change environment, but I needed a change if I was to perform on the big stage.
“The Champs itself went so well. I set national junior records in both the 110m hurdles at 13.24 and the 400m hurdles at 49.98. I didn’t even really like competing at the 400m hurdles, but I dominated, so why not?
“It was a great Champs for me. Besides the competition, I just remember hanging out with the team at the hotel. I’m a total goofball and I’m always trying to make the guys laugh.
“Winning the double was very emotional. KC Graham came down on the track crying, just thanking the Lord. My family was there it was a hugely emotional moment. There is no better feeling than accomplishing something you have worked so hard for.
“Winning the double at Champs propelled me forward for the rest of my career and to the point I am today. It helped me win a scholarship to attend university in the US, where I would get a degree, break college records and eventually become a professional athlete.”
Steve Landells for the IAAF