The Associated PressLONDON (AP) — The tune blaring across the stadium sound system was unmistakable: “Jamming” by Bob Marley. The flag the winner paraded around the track was familiar, too: The black, green and gold cross of Jamaica.
That 110-meter hurdler Omar McLeod was at the center of this celebration Monday wasn’t all that big a surprise. That McLeod was the first from the island to do the honors at this year’s world championships still feels like something of a shock.
The 23-year-old from Kingston did what Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson could not the previous nights in the 100 meters — namely, powered toward the finish line and left the field behind to bring a gold medal home to a country that has come to expect nothing less.
“I took it upon myself to reroute that and bring that spark back,” said McLeod, who adds this gold medal to his Olympic title from last year. “I’m happy I did that.”
McLeod won in 13.04 seconds, while the world-record holder, American Aries Merritt, finished fifth. It marked the first disappointment of the meet for the U.S. on a straightaway where Justin Gatlin and Tori Bowie won the 100 and Christian Coleman finished second to Gatlin and one spot ahead of Bolt.
The U.S. got shut out of the medals in the 110 hurdles for the first time since the world championships were first contested in 1983. That, plus the unlikely notion of McLeod, not Bolt, breaking the ice at the top of the podium for Jamaica were Exhibits 1 and 1a of why they run the races.
“Everyone in the hurdling game is hurdling well,” said Merritt, who was competing in his first major competition since a kidney transplant after the 2015 worlds. “The event is much deeper than it has been in a long time.”
Sergey Shubenkov of Russia finished 0.1 seconds behind McLeod for the silver medal, though that prize will go in nobody’s column.
Shubenkov came in as the defending world champion, but was not able to compete at the Olympics last year because of the doping scandal that has engulfed his country. He is one of 19 Russians cleared to compete in London this year — his anti-doping regimen judged to be robust enough to return to competition.
But with Russia’s track federation still suspended, all 19 of the Russians are competing as neutral athletes. They are wearing aqua, red and pink uniforms with no hint of the Russian flag or any other Russian symbol.
“Not a big deal,” Shubenkov said. “There are a lot of people in my hometown, it’s 4 or 5 a.m., and they’re not sleeping. It means a lot for my family. It means a lot for every person in my country that was watching it, supporting me. The color of the vest doesn’t matter.”
Asked whether doping is still a problem in his home country, Shubenkov insisted “not only in Russia but worldwide.”
“I’m not into the subject, really,” he said. “Since my clearance, I got into my training and I’m not as much into the news as I was last year.”
Makwala among those to fall ill
LONDON (AP) — Several athletes have come down with a stomach bug at the world championships, including medal favorite Isaac Makwala of Botswana.
Makwala pulled out of his 200-meter heat Monday and later said he had food poisoning.
“There have been a number of cases of gastroenteritis reported by team members residing within one of the official team hotels,” the local organizing committee said in a statement, putting a dampener on the 10-day event. “Those affected have been supported by both team and LOC medical staff.”
Makwala wrote on his Facebook page that other athletes were also hit by the bug.