KINGSTON • Reigning Olympic 110m hurdles champion Omar McLeod ran a sizzling 12.90 seconds in Kingston on Saturday to lay down a marker ahead of August's World Championships.
His run to secure a third successive national title at the Jamaica championships was the fifth fastest of all time, level with American Dominique Arnold's 2006 mark and only a 10th of a second behind Aries Merritt's world record.
Apart from Merritt, only Cuban Dayron Robles (12.87sec), China's Liu Xiang (12.88sec) and American David Oliver (12.89sec) have run faster.
From Lane 4, McLeod was quickest to the first hurdle and never eased off the throttle to better Hansle Parchment's previous Jamaican record of 12.94sec set in 2014.
He said the world record was now firmly in his sights.
"Oh yes!" the 23-year-old said. "My new coach (Edrick Floreal) told me that every time somebody asked me about the world record, I shied away from it last year and I don't know why. But he made me fall in love with the hurdles again.
Jamaican Omar McLeod's national record in the 110m hurdles, the fifth fastest time ever recorded.
"There were a lot of things I had to work on technically and it's now all coming together. And he said when anyone asked if I'm going to break the world record, I should say, 'Yes'. And I'm going to do it."
His impressive time came even though he clipped a couple of hurdles. His coach had expected him to run 12.85sec.
"I was not supposed to hit a hurdle, but I think I hit two," he said. "I'm finally doing some speed work and finally learning how to control my speed, finally attacking the hurdles fearlessly and not worried about hitting a hurdle."
Ronald Levy was a distant second in 13.13sec, with Parchment third in 13.19sec.
In Sacramento, California, Fred Kerley ran the second-fastest 400m of the year and Sam Kendricks soared to the outdoor season's first 6m pole vault at the United States' national championships.
Kendricks, the Olympic bronze medallist, took much pleasure from topping the 6m barrier for the first time.
"It's a career point," the 24-year-old said. "Every great jumper in history had at least one six-metre jump. To be a part of that club, to be an elite top 20 in the history in the event is really cool to me."