Former Razorback takes first world title

LONDON — An Olympic champion in 2016, former Razorback Omar McLeod showed the world he has no plans to slow down, capturing his first world championships title in the 110-meter hurdles on Monday evening at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in London.

His gold medal was the first for Jamaica at the 2017 IAAF World Championships and was also the first ever for his country in the 110 hurdles.

“Omar deserves this victory,” said 2015 Russian world champion Sergey Shubenkov. “The Jamaican is just too fast.”

The third-fastest hurdler out of the blocks (.123 reaction time), McLeod’s foot speed was no match for Shubenkov and the rest of the field. He crossed the finish line .10 seconds ahead of the 2015 champion and markedly ahead of their fellow competitors.

“This one is special, honestly,” said McLeod. “There was a lot of pressure coming in but I channeled it positively. I had to do it the ‘Omar McLeod’ way. It’s totally different to last year where we had Usain [Bolt] and Elaine [Thompson] winning, which I used to propel me. I didn’t have that this time so I really wanted to come out and shine my own light.”

McLeod may get a chance to win another world gold for Jamaica as a member of the nation’s 4-x-100-meter relay pool with the revered Usain Bolt. The 4-x-100 relay preliminary round will be held on Saturday, Aug. 12 at 4:55 p.m. CT.

In the field, Clive Pullen finished with a best mark of 15.61m/51-2 3/4. He was unable to get on the board during his first two attempts, struggling to find his rhythm after a two month hiatus from competition.

“Clive was ready and excited to compete tonight,” assistant coach Travis Geopfert said. “The big break from competition caused him to struggle a bit technically. He’s of course very disappointed but he’ll pick himself up, brush himself off and will be back to show the world what he can do. That’s simply the type of competitor he is.”

Survive and Advance
NCAA bronze medalist and rising Arkansas senior Kemar Mowatt qualified for the 400-meter hurdle finals with the second-fastest non-automatic qualifying time of 48.66. Mowatt’s section, which featured reigning Olympic gold medalist and two-time world champion Kerron Clement, was the fastest of the three.

Mowatt’s performance would have earned him a heat-win in both section two and section three of the 400 hurdles semifinals.

“It was a good race but it wasn’t a perfect race,” said assistant coach Doug Case. “He [Mowatt] ran the first 200 really well with a really fast split. At the end he just clipped that 10th hurdle but he was on his way to a really great race. I think he can contend in the finals. He’s ready to run really, really fast. If his last hurdle is clean, he runs a much better race and I talked to him about that already.”

Up Next
ProHog Stanley Kebenei will look increase the Arkansas men’s track and field 2017 worlds medal count to three, racing the steeplechase finals tomorrow at 3:10 p.m. CT. Kebenei heads into the finals with fifth-fastest time in the event this season.

World championships coverage will begin at 1:30 p.m. CT on NBC Sports. Fans can also follow the live results HERE.

Date: Aug. 4-13
Venue: London Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Important Link: Meet Central (Schedule, Live Results, IAAF Radio and Athlete Stats)
Broadcast Schedule: NBC (see table below)

Arkansas Entries (12)
• Bahamas – Tamara Myers (Triple Jump)
• Jamaica – Kemoy Campbell (5,000), Omar McLeod (110mH), Kemar Mowatt (400mH) and Clive Pullen (Triple Jump)
• Slovenia – Tina Sutej (Pole Vault)
• Trinidad & Tobago – Sparkle McKnight (400mH)
• USA – Daina Harper (4-x-400m Relay), Andrew Irwin (Pole Vault), Stanley Kebenei (Steeplechase), Jarrion Lawson (Long Jump) and Sandi Morris (Pole Vault)

Arkansas World Championships Medalists (Chronological)
• 1983: Mike Conley (Long Jump – Bronze)
• 1987: Mike Conley (Triple Jump – Silver), Roddie Haley (4-x-400m Relay – Gold)
• 1991: Mike Conley (Triple Jump – Bronze)
• 1993: Mike Conley (Triple Jump – Gold)
• 1997: Erick Walder (Long Jump – Silver)
• 2005: Wallace Spearmon Jr. (200m – Silver)
• 2007: Tyson Gay (100m – Gold, 200m – Gold, 4-x-100m Relay – Gold), Wallace Spearmon Jr. (200m – Bronze, 4-x-100m Relay – Gold)
• 2009: Tyson Gay (100m – Silver), Wallace Spearmon Jr. (200m – Bronze)
 2017: Jarrion Lawson (Long Jump – Silver), Omar McLeod (110mH – Gold)