A bitter-sounding Omar McLeod said he is heartbroken after not being given an opportunity to defend his Olympic title in Tokyo later this month and has described as absurd, the Jamaica Athletic Administrative Association’s (JAAA) decision to exclude from the country’s Olympic team.

The 27-year-old McLeod was speaking today at a press conference on the eve of the Gateshead Diamond League meeting on Tuesday.

The 2016 Olympic champion hit the first hurdle at his country’s national championships on Sunday, June 27 and finished eighth. He complained afterwards that he had suffered a cramp after being forced to run the finals on Sunday morning having won his semi-final on the night before in 13.04 his second-fastest time this season.

Ronald Levy, who was second in McLeod’s semi-final in a season-best 13.08, won the final in 13.10 ahead of Damion Thomas (13.11) and Hansle Parchment (13.16), all top 10 times in the world. However, the national record holder felt he should have been considered for selection, despite the competition rules which state that the first three places will be selected.

Asked about his situation, McLeod held nothing back.

“I am very heartbroken, honestly. I don’t think I was given or granted a fair opportunity to make the team with this ridiculous schedule that I have never seen in my years in track and field where they have semi-finals late in the evening and then, without recovery and the country was in complete lockdown so we were unable to go back to the hotel and get food,” he lamented, his voice near the point of breaking.

“So, my team and I, we did the best we could and we went to a little lounge at the hotel and drank some soup and had a salad because that was all they had, trying to go back to the track and five in the morning for a final at eight, I mean, that’s stupid.

“For an event that has your reigning Olympic champion, you don’t treat the event like that. Give me a fair opportunity like everybody else to come and make the team. I didn’t have the audacity to not show up at the trials thinking I was obligated to make the team. I went there ready to compete and earn my spot.”

He said on the morning of the race he suffered a severe cramp and thought that his country would have ‘had my back."

“We did a medical exemption. It’s been done for Usain Bolt and other athletes before where they couldn’t run in the final or something happened. I was in the same position where I won all the major gold medals and historic moments where I was the first Jamaican to win (110mh) gold medals in every championship so I thought I was going to be okay.”

McLeod said his team exhausted every possible avenue of appeal including sending emails and meeting with the members of the selection committee. He also put out a statement on social media explaining what happened prior to the race.

The distraught sprint hurdler, who said he was denied the chance to run ‘something ridiculous’ at the trials, perhaps a national or world record, suggested he doesn’t know what he will do at the meet on Tuesday as he will be running on pure emotion waiting for the season to end.

“To be denied the opportunity is really absurd,” he said.

 

 

 

 

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