Brianna Rollins gave the United States its first track gold in Rio, winning the 100m hurdles, with Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin completing the American podium sweep.
Favourite Rollins, with the fastest personal best in the field, ran an almost flawless race from lane six to add Olympic gold to her 2013 world title in 12.48. Ali was clear in second place when she crossed the line to take silver in 12.59. Castlin, who was fourth over the final hurdle, faced a nervous wait before discovering she had done enough in the dash to the finish to take bronze in 12.61. Cindy Ofili from Great Britain pushed Castlin right to the line with her best run of the year but lost out on a medal by two hundredths of a second in 12.63.
The trio of friends celebrated on the track in an embrace when the scoreboard confirmed they had secured the first Olympic podium sweep in the history of women's sprint hurdles. Rollins was particularly happy for Ali and Castlin: “I know I won the gold, but I wanted to make sure that my other team-mates won a medal as well. I’m just so grateful we were able to accomplish this together.”
“You can't really take anyone out here for granted. These women work so hard,” silver medallist Ali said of the competition. “To see Brianna with the gold and to look up and see Kristi with the bronze, it was great. For it to be with them, it's just the icing on the cake.”
Castlin, who trains with Rollins, recalled her wait to have her bronze medal confirmed: “I typically race in about seventh place until the last three hurdles. I'm a finisher. I really couldn't breathe for a second. My thing was not so much a bronze for myself but upholding the team. We came into this together. So we were able to actually do the first sweep in US women's history and it feels good to be a history-maker.”
The depth of the US 100m hurdles team was illustrated by the fact that the Rollins, Ali and Castlin beat world record holder Kendra Harrison and 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper in the US Olympic trials, with the two failing to make the cut.