Following the failures of Olympic champions Usain Bolt and Elaine Thompson in the men’s and women’s 100 metres respectively, McLeod swept home in 13.04 seconds just ahead of the defending champion Sergey Shubenkov. Balazs Baji from Hungary claimed the bronze.
McLeod dedicated his win to Bolt and admitted that after the slumps of the two Rio 2016 gold medallists, the mood in the Jamaica camp had been gloomy.
The 23-year-old, who also claimed gold in the event in Brazil, said he decided to take it upon himself to lift spirits.
It was a gutsy performance. With three hurdles left he was neck-and-neck with Shubenkov. But McLeod held his nerve and surged over the line.
“This one is special, honestly,” he said. “There was a lot of pressure coming in but I channelled it positively. It’s totally different to last year where we had Usain and Elaine winning, which I used to propel me. I didn’t have that this time so I really wanted to come out and shine my own light.”
Shubenkov qualified for the final with one of the fastest third place finishes. But in the showdown he oozed class and was the early leader. However he was eclipsed in the second part of the sprint – usually his strongest phase of the race.
“I’m so frustrated,” said the Russian who is competing under a neutral flag. “I struggled over the last few hurdles but I was leading for the first half so that is the frustration. Omar is just too fast. I’m just happy to be competing at a world championships and get a world medal.”
In the women’s 1500 metres final, there was an almighty scramble in the home straight. The Kenyan Faith Chepngetich Kipyegon emerged from the melee with the gold after 4:02.59.
Jennifer Simpson from the United States claimed the silver and the South African Caster Semenya pipped the Briton Laura Muir on the line to take the bronze. “I knew it would be fast,” said Kipyegon. “It was such a quality field. It was always going to be quick and competitive.”
In the field events,Anita Włodarczyk from Poland defended her hammer crown and Yulimar Rojas won the women’s triple jump. The Venezuelan produced a leap of 14.91 in the fifth of her six attempts to edge past the Colombian Caterine Ibarguen who won the event at the Beijing world championships and the Rio Olympics.
Charmingly, 21-year-old Rojas, sporting green hair, jumped for joy and hinted at a new look. “I made a promise to myself that I would change the colour of my hair if I won the gold medal,” she said. “I guess it will be between pink and kind of purple.”