Jamaica’s 60m hurdles world champion Omar McLeod tells us the sentimental significance of his trademark necklace.
1. My late auntie is my inspiration
“My auntie, Phiona Knight, who died in April 2014, just 11 days before my birthday, was a huge influence in my life. She was very hard working, caring, loving and, in my opinion, just a perfect human being.
“Our relationship was more like a brother and sister. I remember coming out of high school, she was one of the very few who was genuine enough to tell me the truth about the importance of going to college and getting a degree before I even considered a professional career. She literally begged me not to go the professional route back then. So because of this I feel, although I am now a professional athlete, I am obligated to finish that degree on her behalf.
“I do not regret the decision she helped me to make, which was to secure my education.”
2. I love volleyball
“I have a huge passion for volleyball and fell in love with that sport in college. My teammates and I would often go out on Saturdays to play sand volleyball – the sand was not at the beach rather at our apartment complex.
“While playing volleyball is quite different to hurdling, I think playing in the sand does help with leg strength and it has helped keep me active and youthful!
“I'd say I'm a good right side hitter. If I was to choose another athlete to make a team it would definitely have to be my good friend [2015 world 110m hurdles silver medallist] Hansle Parchment. The only reason I'd pick him is because of his height because I am pretty sure he knows absolutely nothing about volleyball!”
3. My necklace is my strength
“Every race I compete with a green and yellow beaded necklace and the reason I race with it in my mouth is it gives me a firm grip as I aggressively attack each hurdle.
“I've been wearing that necklace ever since my aunt died, it belonged to her so obviously it's dear to me. It reminds me that my aunt is watching over me and she will forever be proud of me.”