How quickly things change.
Less than a year ago, the USA sent a very formidable women's 100-meter hurdles team to the 2012 London Olympic Games with designs on a podium sweep.
Dawn Harper, Kellie Wells and Lolo Jones were the best America had to offer—and indeed, Harper and Wells found their way to the podium.
But perched atop the medals stand, the little fireball from Australia, Sally Pearson, stood in victory.
With all the depth, quality and reputation of the American hurdles program, Pearson had been running in a whole different time zone all year, and her Olympic win in 12.35 seconds was impressive but not surprising.
Last weekend, all of that changed.
Pearson tweeted the following on Saturday:
Brianna Rollins, 21, had sent a warning shot throughout the hurdles world two weeks earlier when the then-Clemson junior threw down a 2013 world-leading 12.39 in winning the NCAA championship title in Eugene, Ore.
She immediately went pro, signing with Nike.
It was as if the Nike swoosh somehow gave wings to her already-swift feet in last weekend's USA Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Des Moines, Iowa. In her two qualifying rounds, Rollins posted wind-aided times of 12.33 and 12.30.
Then in the final, Rollins took down Gail Devers' old American record (12.33) and validated her amazing season (and her ticket to the World Championships in Moscow) with the wind-legal 12.26.
Only two Eastern Bloc hurdlers from the drug-tainted 1980s have run faster.
Two former NCAA champions punched their tickets to Moscow as well. Queen Harrison (12.43) and Nia Ali (12.48) put a youthful stamp on this year's team. Harper has an automatic berth on the team by virtue of her Diamond League champion bye from 2012.
Collectively, that's an impressive and intimidating force to be bringing into the Worlds—the top three, and four of the top six times in the world (Jones and Wells are Nos. 4 and 5).
Pearson has yet to run this year. She has been rehabilitating a hamstring injury but is expected to test her fitness at the Golden Spike meet this Thursday in Ostrava, Czech Republic.
If Pearson does survive her race without further injury, she'll have several Diamond League tune-up meets to prepare for the defense of her 2011 World Championships crown in August.
And time to work on that A++ game.
Watch slow-motion video of Rollins' American record here.
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