An emotionally-charged Brianna Rollins made her first U.S. Olympic team on Friday at the U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials in Eugene, Oregon.READ MORE: 2 Doral Police Officers Injured In Shooting Near Miami-Dade Police Headquarters; Suspect Killed ID'd By Police
The 2009 Miami Northwestern alum won the 100-meter hurdles in 12.34, the second-fastest time in the world this year.
“When I got to the finish line and realized I was the first one to cross, I was so overwhelmed and so excited,” Rollins said.
Ever since she graduated from Northwestern where she was mentored by legendary track coach Carmen Jackson, Rollins had the potential for world-class stardom.
The 5-foot-5 Miami-born Rollins, who turns 25 on Aug. 18 during the Rio Summer Olympics in Brazil, was a member of three high school state champion teams and earned a scholarship to Clemson.
The oldest of seven siblings was pretty much under the radar until 2013, when she won the 2013 World Outdoor Championships in the 100-meter hurdles and broke both the collegiate and American records in the 100 hurdles. She won her first NCAA outdoor title and then went on to win the USA Outdoor Championships where she broke Gail Devers’ 13-year-old record. Rollins held the American record for nearly two years.
Rollins is only the second athlete in Clemson women’s track history to make the U.S. Olympic team. Rollins only started running in high school.
“I was always told that I was very fast and very athletic so I tried out for the high school track team and from then on I started running,” Rollins said.
“I wanted to do hurdles because I thought it was fun and interesting and not a boring event. Running over obstacles for 100 meters is an intriguing race and it caught my eye.”
Rollins was overcome with emotion at the finish line hugging her two new teammates, Kristi Castlin (12.50) and Nia Ali (12.55).READ MORE: South Florida PBA Union President Steadman Stahl On Stress Of Being A Police Officer
“I look forward to competing with these ladies, and hopefully all three of us end up on the medal stand,” Rollins said. “I am finally able to relax and start to prepare myself for the road to Rio. Maybe I can get the American record back, but right now I am just focusing on getting a medal.”
Rollins, one of more than 30 first-timers going to the Olympic track competition for the U.S., loves her hurdles team.
“We’re the best in the country and the best in the world,” Rollins said. “I’m so blessed and work hard at what I do. I’m just going to continue to believe in myself and what I have. I look forward to competing with these ladies, and hopefully all three of us end up on the medal stand.”
Rollins joins St. Thomas Aquinas alum Arman (Geno) Hall of Univesity of Florida on the U.S. Olympic team. Hall was fourth in the 400 (45.09) for a spot on the men’s 4×400-meter relay.
Other South Florida athletes did not fare as well:
Dillard alum Shakima Wimbley of University of Miami failed to qualify for the 200-meter semifinals after finishing in 23.70 in her heat.
Coral Springs alum Walter Dix was unable to get out of the 200 semifinals, placing 13th overall in 20.63 ending his hopes of making his second Olympic team. In 2008, he won bronze medals in the 100 and 200. He was the nation’s top high school sprinter in 2004.
Bershawn (Batman) Jackson, a Miami Central alum, qualified sixth in 45.59 after semifinals in the 400-meter hurdles and finished eighth in Sunday’s final in 49.96 and failed to make his second Olympic team. Jackson’s father Jeffrey Felton died of a heart attack in October at age 53. Jackson wears a hollowed-out silver bullet with his dad’s ashes when he competes. “He’s always with me,” Jackson said after he won his first round heat.
Boyd Anderson alum Shayla Sanders of Florida was 24th in the 100 prelims in 11.32 and did not advance.
Robin Reynolds, the most decorated track athlete in Florida high school history while at Miami Jackson, was 11th in the 400 in 51.91 and did make finals.MORE NEWS: Ready For Hallo-Scream? Here Are The Top Family-Friendly Spots To Celebrate & Best Places To Get A Pumpkin
Ebony Eutsey, a Miami Southridge alum, was 12th in the 400 in 52.26.