Yes, Omar made the right decision. Sometimes things just work out. Aries Merrit got a kidney transplant and opened the door for Omar. Plus USA is going through a lean period for high hurdles right now.
Clay wrote a year or so ago about when you see greatness for the first time.
I vividly remember the first time I saw Omar run competitively. It was in a meet between Arkansas and Texas in January 2014. He just ran the hurdles so smoothly and effortlessly. He told me later that he had never run indoors before he came to Fayetteville, which isn’t surprising given his homeland.
I took my wife to the NCAA meet the next year and told her to watch him. She remembers the race well. He won with what I think was a world-leading mark at the time. He would have won the 110 hurdles as a freshman had it not been for an injury.
Prior to that indoor season, I was sitting in the bleachers at a practice with Chris Bucknam. He told me about a couple of Jamaicans he had signed - McLeod and Clive Pullen. “These are the equivalent to 5-star recruits in football,” he said. “Freakin’ studs.”
That’s a major understatement, I’d say. Both wound up in Rio. Clive didn’t jump very well, but Omar absolutely nailed it. I think he might have beaten a healthy Aries Merritt too, but we’ll never know.