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Brianna Rollins, photo by PhotoRun.net

Stop to think about the breathtaking ride that budding American hurdle sensation Brianna Rollins has taken over the past seven months.

Rollins began the year as a Clemson University junior simply trying to find a way to improve on her 100H P.R. of "about 12.70." Bolstered by the consistent off-season work she had put in to build strength and to refine her hurdling technique, the young athlete soon began ringing up a string of improved performances. Rollins cruised through the early spring whirlwind of relay carnivals and regular season contests and soon found herself at the NCAA championship meet as the 100H favorite. With her concentration never wavering, the Clemson hurdle star didn't disappoint. Rollins breeze through her semi-final round posting a sparkling 12.47 - a then world leader. And in the final, her 12.39 improved her WL mark and simply blew away the field, leaving the runner-up - Stanford's talented Kori Carter [12.79] - far behind.

Within days, Rollins turned pro, donned the Nike vest, and was off to Des Moines for the national championship meet and an opportunity to qualify for the world championships. The dizzying pace of Rollins' rising status did not rattle her. Staying on task, Rollins was able to compete without fear against her fellow professional hurdlers - even do battle with Des Moines' hometown legend and part-time bobsledder Lolo Jones. Before the meet concluded, Rollins had qualified for her first national team and had her ticket to Moscow. In the process, her winning hurdle mark of 12.26 improved her world leading time, set a new American record [Devers / 12.33], established her as tied for #3 on the all-time performer list, and even flirted with Yordanka Dankova's long-standing WR of 12.21 - a mark that is scheduled to celebrate its silver anniversary on Tuesday if Rollins doesn't take it down this weekend.

So now Ms. Rollins finds herself in Moscow - a bustling metropolis with an eight century heritage that is quite removed - both geographically and culturally - from the simpler life and easier pace of Clemson, South Carolina. But America's new hurdle queen just goes with the flow. Rollins breezed through the opening round of the 100H - breaking away early, snapping down that hurdle leg, and gliding over the finish line in 12.55 - the fastest first round mark of the day. "I just came out here and just ran a very relaxed race and just focused on my own lane and just continued to work on that," a breathless Rollins shared in the mixed zone. "I just want to have fun with it and take each round one at a time."

When questioned about how she's handled the transformational improvement she has made, the records she has set, and her new status as one of the world's hurdling elite, Rollins offers a cheerful explanation. "I think about just the hard work I've put in during the off season," she explains. "I continue to put God first and just remain humble."

Everyone knows Rollins' ultimate gold medal objective for this weekend. But is she focused on time? "Not focused at all," she confides. "The most important thing for me is to come out here and execute a great race."

As her brief exchange with the media winds down, Rollins is questioned about her sequined, red and white headband which is smartly constraining her flowing hair. With a quick smile, she answers "I am trying to represent the U.S. the best way I can, you know?"

Her stunning headband indeed is an attractive way to represent the U.S. But a gold medal performance by Brianna Rollins in tonight's 100H final would be even better.


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Dunaway AwardAt the 2019 annual meeting of the Track and Field Writers of America, Dave was presented with the James Dunaway Memorial Award “for track & field journalism excellence.”

Dave Hunter

Dave HunterDave Hunter is a track & field journalist, announcer, and broadcaster.  Dave reports on the premier track & field gatherings around the globe, frequently serves as an arena or stadium announcer for championship events, and has undertaken foreign and domestic broadcast assignments in the sport.


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