By Sports Reporter/Doha
Jamaican hurdler Hansle Parchment admits he didn’t know much about Doha as he prepared for his maiden journey to the Qatari capital for his first appearance in the Doha Diamond League meeting. “I only heard that it’s fire outside,” he said with a hearty laugh.
The 2012 Olympic bronze medallist and 2015 World Championships runner-up is hoping that characterisation will translate to fire on the track as well. “I’m looking forward to it,” Parchment added. “I think it’s going to be a great competition between the guys.”
With a personal best of 12.94, Parchment is one of a group of five sub-13 second performers who will cross paths in Doha tomorrow evening, making the men’s 110m hurdles one of the most anticipated events at the 2016 Doha Meeting, which for the seventh time kicks off the IAAF Diamond League series.
Another is his compatriot Omar McLeod, who stormed to a surprise victory at the World Indoor Championships in March, and arrives in Doha as the world leader at 13.08 from last weekend’s Drake Relays in Des Moines, Iowa, an impressive run given the unwelcome conditions.
“I really was kind of surprised (with how fast it was) knowing that it was my season opener, and with the weather really cold and windy. I know that it will be completely different on Friday,” McLeod said.
McLeod, who turned 22 last month, joined the event’s still exclusive sub-13 club last year when he clocked 12.94 to win the Jamaican title. He didn’t imagine that nine months later he’d be introduced as a world champion.
“It was an indescribable feeling, never in a million years did I think I would be a world champion at age 21,” McLeod said. “So that was definitely something to be happy and proud about, living the moment. But then I had to quickly regain my composure and focus on the ‘big boss’, which is outdoors and Rio. I had to really get over it quickly and move on.”
He made waves again last month in his first race of the year, a 100m contest which he won in 9.99. That made him the first man to ever run under 10 seconds in the 100m and under 13 in the 110m hurdles. That’s another superlative he didn’t expect.
“It really was just raw speed to be honest,” he said, laughing as he recalled what he readily admits wasn’t a pretty race.
“It was my first 100m in five or six years. I didn’t know what I was doing out there. I didn’t even know what to do in the last 20 metres. I was over-striding, and was wondering, ‘What the heck is going on?’ Because it feels so awkward when you don’t have barriers in the way!”
His rivals were clearly impressed. “Honestly, I’m not sure if I could go that fast,” Parchment said, laughing. “I don’t see it. I’d have a lot to work on.”
David Oliver, the 2013 world champion, was dumbfounded by the possibility. “I would hope that I could go 10.50. I don’t really possess that type of speed.”
Despite his lack of sprint speed, Oliver is no stranger to Doha nor to the fire on the track that the meeting’s conditions can help produce.
The 34-year-old American set the meeting record at 12.98 in 2008, and will be gunning for a fourth victory at the Qatar Sports Club. He’s relishing both the competition and more generally, the era he’s been a part of.
“There are so many great guys running right now and we all have our own qualities,” said Oliver, whose 12.89 career best makes him the fourth fastest man in history. “There are eight guys who are running right now who have run under 13 seconds. That’s never happened before. So it’s definitely an interesting event.”
Five of them will be meeting on the track tomorrow. Besides Oliver, Parchment and McLeod, world record holder Aries Merritt (12.80) from the US and Spain’s Orlando Ortega (12.94) are also in the field.
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