LOS ANGELES: Jamaica’s Omar McLeod defied difficult, rainy conditions to clock a world-leading 13.08sec on Saturday (Sunday in Manila) to win the 110m hurdles at the Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa.
With the Rio Olympics approaching in August, McLeod moved atop the 2016 rankings, improving on the 13.33 posted by Jason Richardson last week in Florida.
McLeod, winner of the 60m hurdles gold at the indoor world championships in Portland in March, was a comfortable winner over former world champion David Oliver (13.31) and fellow Jamaican Hansle Parchment (13.42).
“You always want to see where you’re at for your first race,” McLeod said. “That’s good news and tells you that training is going right and you’re staying on top of things.”
Reigning Olympic champion Aries Merritt finished fifth in 13.61 — in his first meeting since undergoing a kidney transplant in September.
“My body felt really good,” said Merritt, who received a new kidney four days after winning world championship bronze last year.
American Kendra Harrison won the women’s 100m hurdles in 12.56sec, with compatriot Kristi Castlin second in 12.62.
Former world champion Brianna Rollins of the United States was third in 12.65.
For Harrison, it was a valuable chance to race against the women she’ll be up against at the US Olympic trials in Eugene, Oregon, in June.
“As competitive as the 100 hurdlers are, it’s anyone’s race and you can’t sleep on anybody,” Harrison said. “The more I run against them, the more confident I get.”