Jamaican men deliver in Birmingham, Williams also secures easy win
Hubert Lawrence, Gleaner Writer
Largely written off, Jamaica’s male track athletes came to the fore at the Birmingham Diamond League meet in England on Sunday. Reigning world 110 metre champion Omar McLeod led the way with a win he described as easy, with Yohan Blake and Akeem Bloomfield also crossing the finish line first. The top Jamaican woman was Danielle Williams who set a meet record of 12.46 seconds in the 100 metre hurdles.
Not named as a medal winner in recent World Championship predictions, hurdler supreme McLeod stepped away from American Freddie Crittenden to win in 13.21 seconds and said, “It was pretty easy and felt good.”
Apparently, things are coming together for him. “I'm in a new environment with a new coach and I feel like I'm ready to go again.”
As is often the case for the man who won the 2016 World Indoor Championship, his mind is on the biggest meet of the year.
“Anything can happen, and I need to go there as defending champion and be ready to compete," determined McLeod.
A relaxed Blake just held off fast finishing Briton Adam Gemili in the 100m, with both getting times of 10.07 seconds.
“The weather wasn't great," he said of the Birmingham chill. "I'm saving the big day for the World Championships and the Diamond League finals in Zurich.”
With the confidence derived from a season with three sub-10 clockings and the Jamaican National title, the 2011 World 100 metre champion said, “I can run faster than that and training has been good.”
Bloomfield’s 400 metre 45.04 second win was critical as he hasn’t yet gained selection for the World Championships in Doha. The win earned him a place in the Diamond League final and a win there would book his ticket to Doha. Just 5th in the 200 metres at the National Championships, he reviewed, “the eight points puts me in the Diamond League final and that's the big positive.”
Nevertheless, the tall Jamaican is still concerned. “I don't know how selection will go for the 400m, but we will have to see what happens.”
With her selection worries dissipated, Williams beat the harsh conditions with a determined win over world record holder Kendra Harrison, who trailed at 12.66 seconds and watched as the Jamaican equalled her meet record of 12.46. Janeek Brown, a Jamaican newcomer to the League, was 5th in 12.79 seconds.
Tall Bahamian Shaunae Miller-Uibo continued her undefeated season with a win in the most keenly awaited race of the meet, the women’s 200 metres. Commonwealth winner last year, Miller-Uibo outlasted fast starting European champion Dina Asher-Smith and recently crowned Pan-Am gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce in 22.24 seconds.