Reigning world and Olympic 110-meter hurdles champion Omar McLeod of Jamaica was upset Saturday by US collegian training partner Daniel Roberts on a rainy Saturday at the 110th Drake Relays.
Cold and windy conditions nagged competitors in Des Moines, Iowa, at Drake University, where this year’s American championships — the US qualifying meet for the world championships — will be staged in July.
Aided by tailwinds, Roberts outleaned McLeod at the line to win in 13.28 seconds with runner-up McLeod 0.01 back and American Freddie Crittenden third in 13.55.
Two days after his 25th birthday, McLeod battled stride for stride with his 21-year-old rival before being edged at the finish by the runner to his right.
“I just had to focus on my lane,” Roberts said. “I train with him so I knew he was going to get there fast. I just had to hold on to the line.”
Asked how he denied the reigning world and Olympic champion in miserable conditions, Roberts admitted, “I don’t even know. I was just running for my life. It just worked out for me today.”
Being in the heart of the US college season aided Roberts in holding his nerve when tested by McLeod, who is just starting his push toward this year’s World Championships at Doha.
McLeod missed last year’s Drake Relays with ankle and abductor injuries after back-to-back wins in 2016 and 2017. He ended his 2018 campaign in July and came back only a couple of weeks ago, winning a University of Florida alumni meet.
American Keni Harrison, the reigning 60m indoor hurdles world champion, won her fourth consecutive Drake Relays 100 hurdles crown in 12.65 seconds. She withstood the tension of two false starts to defeat Puerto Rico’s Jasmine Camacho-Quinn by 0.20 of a second.
“Every single time they blew the gun I had to refocus, reset my mind,” she said. “We were all fighting the wind and the cold.
“It sets me up for a great year. It was a big win.”
Harrison was fourth in the 100m hurdles at the 2017 World Championships in London.
Reigning world 400m hurdles champion Kori Carter of the United States won her specialty in 56.07 seconds, charging late to defeat Yanique Haye-Smith of Turks and Caicos by 0.47 of a second.
“I felt if I could keep her close I was really confident I could win the race,” Carter said. (Agence France-Presse)