ONLINE EXCLUSIVE ARTICLE BY KATHERINE BAUER
Competition at the Drake Relays today saw five Rio Olympics Preview events as athletes from across America and the world attempted towards their goal of reaching the Rio Summer Olympic Games.
Although the weather was relatively calm on Friday, the athletes had to deal with constant rain and a wind chill that dropped into the mid-30s on Saturday.
In the men’s 110-meter hurdles, Omar McLeod came in first in 13.08. He said that this performance is an indicator that he is in great shape.
“You always want to see where you’re at for your first race so it can set you up,” McLeod said. “That’s good news and tells you that training’s going right. You’re staying on top of things.”
Originally from Jamaica, McLeod attended Arkansas University where he ran track where he became aware of the track and field tradition at Drake.
“At Arkansas, my coaches, they’re from here,” McLeod said. “I have a lot of fans here. I had like 15 people at the finish line, rooting for me. So I really wanted to come out here and give them a show and have fun.”
Other Olympic hopefuls were not quite as familiar with the Drake Relays. Meghan Beesley was representing Great Britain today in the 400-meter hurdles. She was first in 55.43.
“I thought this would be a great opportunity,” Beesley said. “It’s never nice when you know it’s going to be cold and rainy. At the end of the day, everyone’s doing the same fight.”
Beesley said that she has only been to big cities like Los Angeles and New York. Des Moines provided a different environment.
“It’s quite nice to just come to a smaller town and see what America’s like,” she said.
Beesley has been eyeing the Rio games and is looking to continue competing and succeeding this season in order to qualify.
“It was great to know that I’m in good shape,” she said. “Hopefully now I can just get to farther in the season and some better conditions. Hopefully some great times will come out of it.”
Kendra Harrison was another Olympic competitor on the Blue Oval today. She has competed here before.
“I came here and ran in college nationals here,” she said. “It’s a really good track, and this meet is always really great. I’m just really glad I’m here.”
Harrison took the win in the 100-meter hurdles in 12.56. She had competed against many of the other athletes before as they all attempt to reach Rio.
“I think each time we run I get a little bit more confident,” Harrison said. “These girls have been with me throughout all these races through the Olympic trials. The more I run against them the more comfortable I’m going to get.”
Two field events, pole vault and triple jump, also saw athletes hoping to be competing at the Olympics. Sandi Morris, who won the indoor pole vault Wednesday at Capital Square, won today with a vault of 4.70 meters. Chris Benard was first in the triple jump with a jump of 16.87 meters.