Sat | Jun 19, 2021

McLeod, Tapper set for Florence test

Published:Thursday | June 10, 2021 | 12:09 AMHubert Lawrence/Gleaner Writer
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Sprint hurdlers Omar McLeod and Megan Tapper will carry Jamaican hopes today in the Florence Golden Gala Diamond League meet.

Both will face quality fields as they ready themselves for the National Senior Championships and the Olympic Games in Tokyo, with McLeod arriving in good form.

On the weekend in Hengelo, Holland, McLeod bolstered his claim to a defence of his 2016 Olympic 110-metre hurdles title with his best time of the year, 13.08 seconds.

Though he will face a fine field in his 2021 Diamond League debut, he is optimistic and has welcomed the added pressure of defending his Olympic title in Tokyo.

“Pressure is a privilege and I’m blessed to be in that position. I just need to keep trusting the process, trusting my coach, stay healthy and I’m going there to defend my title,” said McLeod.

LOST TO HOLLOWAY

The Jamaican lost his World Championships title to American sensation Grant Holloway in 2019 but has shown good form this year with times of 13.11 and 13.16 seconds prior to Hengelo.

He will match spikes with the man who succeeded him as World Indoor 60-metre hurdles champion, Andrew Pozzi of Great Britain, 2010 and 2012 World Under-20 champions Wilhem Belocian and Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France, Pan-Am champion Shane Brathwaite of Barbados and US star Devon Allen. The latter has the second-fastest 2021 time at 13.22 seconds.

The Jacksonville, Florida-based McLeod, Martinot-Lagarde and Allen placed first, fourth and fifth in the 2016 Olympic final.

Based in Austria, Tapper must contend with the season’s fastest 100-metre hurdler, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, who has run 12.44 seconds this year.

Tapper, a finalist at the 2019 World Championships, will also face 2016 Olympic finalist Pedyra Seymour of The Bahamas and European champion Elvira Herman of Belarus.

The diminutive Jamaican has already done 12.87 seconds this season.

Tapper’s first Diamond League race came on May 23 in Gateshead, England, where she finished fifth in a blustery and rain-soaked race. Since then, the 2019 Pan-American Games bronze medal winner has twice broken 13 seconds.

Others down to compete are Britain’s World 200-metre champion Dina Asher-Smith, distance stars Sifa Hassan of Holland and Uganda’s Joshua Cheptegei.

Hassan set a short-lived 10,000-metre world record in Hengelo and Cheptegei set records at both 5,000 and 10,000 metres last year.

sports@gleanerjm.com