Benita Fitzgerald Mosley

The sensation Brianna Rollins

It's an unusual thing, indeed, when Usain Bolt storms to victory -- this time, in the 200 meters -- and he is not the star of the show on an action-packed night at the world championships at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. That would be the new sensation of the women's 100 meter hurdles, Brianna Rollins of the United States, who -- in a race that many track aficionados had been looking forward to as the showdown of the meet -- came from behind to defeat the reigning Olympic champion, Sally Pearson of Australia.

Rollins' winning time: 12.44.

Pearson's: 12.5 flat.

14th IAAF World Athletics Championships Moscow 2013 - Day Eight

Ponder this:

Rollins has made herself, in one year, NCAA champion, U.S. champion and, now, world champion. She finished up at Clemson this spring. She turns 22 tomorrow. She has now won 34 straight races, including heats, across four different disciplines.

Rollins ran an American-record 12.26 to win the U.S. outdoors in June. That 12.44 is her third-fastest time of the year even though it was run into a slight -- 0.6 meters per second -- headwind.

"I'd call it a great year for me," Rollins said. "I'd call it a blessed year."

As Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, the 1984 Los Angeles Games 100 hurdles gold medalist, now the U.S. Olympic Committee's chief of organizational excellence, put it in a telephone interview, Brianna Rollins "is something else -- she really is."

As for Bolt, who had dropped a starting block on his foot in the 200 heats but then got himself taped up and ran, anyway:

Sitting in the blocks, now his style, he got off to the slowest start in the field but nonetheless, as usual, had the race won by the curve. He eased up and still finished in 19.66.

By anyone else's standards, 19.66 would be extraordinary.

For all the understandable to-do about what Bolt does in the 100, the 200 always has been his best event.

To show how he has re-ordered time: 19.66 is his 10th-best 200 mark. Of course he holds the world-record in the event, 19.19, set at the 2009 world championships in Berlin.

Jamaica's Warren Weir, the London 200 bronze medalist, took second, in 19.79.

American Curtis Mitchell prevented a Jamaican sweep by coming on hard in the final 50 meters, finishing in 20.04 for third.

This is how close it was for third: Jamaica's Nickel Ashmeade crossed in 20.05 for fourth.

It was the first time in 200 history that all eight guys went a wind-legal 20.37 or faster.

Some more facts and figures to underscore not only Bolt's place in the record books but his hold on the imagination:

-- He became the first to win the 100-200 sprint double twice at the world championships.

-- His third 200 worlds gold surpasses Michael Johnson and Calvin Smith.

-- He now has seven world gold medals to go with the six he has won at the Olympics. A presumed eighth, the 4x100 relay, is coming up Sunday.

Pearson came into the women's 100 hurdles after overcoming an early-season hamstring problem. She ran 12.62 in the heats, then threw down a 12.5 in the semifinal, the fastest qualifying time, signaling that she was indeed ready to go.

Make no mistake: Sally Pearson is a big-game racer.

Rollins ran 12.55 in the heats, 12.54 in the semifinals.

This would be, of course, Rollins' first major international final. Also in Saturday's final: Dawn Harper, the 2008 Beijing gold medalist and 2012 London silver medalist.

In the first half of the race, it looked as if Pearson might just pull it off.

Rollins reacted horribly to the gun, 0.263. Pearson, meanwhile, got off to a good start, 0.154, and led through the first few hurdles.

But Rollins eventually made her move, passing Pearson over the eighth and ninth hurdles.

With the victory, Americans won both the women's and men's sprint hurdles at the worlds for the third time; David Oliver won the men's 110 hurdles on Monday. Americans won previously in 1995 and 2001.

"Today I didn't have the best start but I didn't panic," Rollins said. "I was just focusing on my own lane and working hard, trying to finish strong. Today was about the victory, not about the time. The fast times will come. I have a huge respect for Sally Pearson. She is a great athlete and it was great to compete with her today. I was nervous but nervousness is normal. It's just about the way you handle it."

For her part, Pearson said, "Of course you are going to a race to win but I am satisfied. It is not gold but the best I could produce tonight. It was a hard year for me. In July, others were smashing me. Tonight I was only beaten by one. Next year, I won't be getting any silver!"

Great Britain's Tiffany Porter ran a personal-best 12.55 for third place, Britain's first women's 100 hurdles medal at a world championships. Harper took fourth in 12.59, with another American, Queen Harrison, fifth in 12.73.

"It was a horrible race, and I don't know what happened," Harper said.

In other action, the illustrious Meseret Defar of Ethiopia won the women's 5000 meters, in 14:50.19, the fastest time in the race at the worlds in eight years -- despite a last 200 meters run in a relatively pedestrian 29.43.

Defar is 5-foot-3, 92 pounds of tough. Her record:

Three Olympic 5k medals -- 2012 and 2004 gold, 2008 bronze.

Five worlds 5k medals, a record -- two golds, one silver, two bronze.

In her typically understated way, Defar said afterward, "It is a big achievement for me."

Molly Huddle finished sixth in 15:05.73, the best finish ever by an American.

The U.S. women's 4x400 relay team's world championship winning streak -- five -- came to an end. Russia won, in 3:20.19. The Americans -- running without the injured Allyson Felix -- took second, in 3:20.41. Great Britain came in third, in 3:22.61.

In the women's high jump, Russia's Svetlana Shkolina, the 2012 bronze medalist, took gold Saturday at 2.03 meters, or 6 feet, 8 inches. American Brigetta Barrett, the London silver medalist, took second again; she cleared 2.00, or 6 6-3/4, but not 2.03.

"Two silver medals in the course of 12 months -- it's been one heck of a year," Barrett said later.

Finally, this:

Kenya's previous best performance at the worlds in any field event had been 15th in the triple jump qualifying.

In the men's javelin, won by the Czech Republic's Vitezslav Vesley with a throw of 87.17 meters, or 286 feet, Kenya's Julius Yego took fourth. He threw a national-record 85.40, or 280-2.


Smart USOC executive play

Here's why the U.S. Olympic Committee is trending in all the right directions under chief executive Scott Blackmun. On Wednesday, the USOC announced an executive team re-shuffle, keynoted by the hiring of Benita Fitzgerald Mosley as what's called the "chief of organizational excellence," in essence chief operating officer.

Fitzgerald Mosley, 51, comes back to the USOC from USA Track & Field, where she was chief of sport performance. Last summer in London, the U.S. track team won 29 medals -- one shy of the audacious Project 30 goal set out by former USATF chief executive Doug Logan, who hired Fitzgerald Mosley and then charged her to see it through.

Fitzgerald Mosley is the real deal, one of the most intelligent, articulate and capable executives in the United States. That's right -- any business, not just sports. It is the USOC's good fortune that she is working in the Olympic movement, and that she thoroughly understands not just the scope and nature of its mission but, as well, all its component pieces.

It is a coup for Blackmun to get her back in Colorado Springs, Colo., the USOC's longtime base.

For emphasis: it is the USOC's gain and, candidly, USATF's loss.

Fitzgerald Mosley is the 1984 Olympic 100-meter hurdles gold medalist. She served the USOC previously as director of its Chula Vista, Calif., Olympic Training Center (1995-97), of all three USOC Training Centers (1997-2000) and of its public relations programs (2000-01).

From 2001-09, she was was president and chief executive of Women in Cable Telecommunications.

"I'm excited about working with Scott," Fitzgerald Mosley said, simply, in a telephone interview from Des Moines, Iowa, where the U.S. track and field national championships are underway.

She is due to take up her new position in August.

"I'm extraordinarily excited about this addition to our team," Blackmun said in a statement. "We have to ensure that we continue to evolve as an organization and hold ourselves to the same standards as our athletes, and Benita will help us do just that."

For one thing, what Fitzgerald Mosley will do is bring an athlete's perspective to executive-level meetings in the Springs. Everyone else in that room might think they know what an athlete wants or needs. Fitzgerald Mosley knows for sure. That's invaluable.

For another, Fitzgerald Mosley brings diversity. There's no getting around this. She is African-American. She is female. Blackmun has repeatedly pledged that enhancing diversity is a USOC priority, and Fitzgerald Mosley's hiring is proof that the USOC is not just talking the talk.

"He and I certainly didn't talk about that," Fitzgerald Mosley said, adding, "I certainly recognize that's a plus in my hiring. Breaking through barriers or at least overcoming them is something I'm used to doing as hurdler."

Blackmun has plenty this 2013 on his plate, in particular the contours of a potential 2024 Summer Games bid and the search for a chief development officer who could multiply fund-raising levels. Practically speaking, that means Fitzgerald Mosley is going to have plenty to do, too -- again, a smart play by Blackmun.

Unlike some chief executives who are control freaks, Blackmun is more than confident enough in himself to hire someone as capable as Fitzgerald Mosley, to not be threatened by her and to trust her and and the rest of his team to get their jobs done. This is the winning culture he has helped create at the USOC since coming on board in January, 2010.

Take note of this USOC statement:

"Fitzgerald Mosley will oversee a number of organizational priorities that will utilize her unique perspective, including athlete career programs and the athlete ombudsman's office. Additionally, she will assume many of the responsibilities of outgoing Chief Administrative Officer Kirsten Volpi, including diversity and inclusion, human resources, facilities, NGB organizational development, security, and strategic planning."

Volpi is leaving the USOC to return to the Colorado School of Mines, in Golden, Colo., west of Denver, where she previously served as chief financial officer.

In other changes:

USOC chief financial office Walt Glover will take on further responsibility for information technology and audit. He will report to Blackmun.

Rick Adams has been named chief of sport operations and NGB relations. He will add oversight of the three Olympic Training Centers to his NGB organizational development portfolio. He will report to Fitzgerald Mosley.

Mike English, who had been chief of sport operations, is leaving.


The team behind the U.S. track team's success

Three years ago, in the call room underneath the Bird's Nest, just before the women's 4x100, that American relay team learned -- to their dismay -- that Team USA staffers had failed to pick up their bib numbers for the race. The bibs would have to be written out, by hand, right then and there, as if this was a high school meet instead of the 2008 Olympic Games.

A few minutes later, out on the track, he U.S. women would go on to drop the baton. While that wasn't the reason -- of course not -- it proved a "significant distraction," one of the athletes would later explain in USA Track & Field's Project 30 report, a distraction so "embarrassing" that in the telling of it months later she was still "on the verge of tears."

Something clearly had to change.

It has, and in the wake of the U.S. team's performance this past summer at the world championships in Daegu, South Korea -- winners of 25 medals -- full credit is due.

First and foremost, to the athletes, of course. They're the ones out on the track and on the field.

And while the coaches and shoe companies and other sponsors can justifiably take credit, there's now a fully functioning team behind the team -- led by Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, USATF's chief of sport performance.

It's because of episodes such as the "bib debacle" -- the exact phrasing that's used in Project 30 -- that Fitzgerald Mosley was hired.

It's precisely that sort of stuff she has corrected.

Her purview is the kind of stuff that people tend not to think about a great deal until it matters, and then it matters a lot.

Because it has to work, and work exactly right. It's detail work, and pressure work.

She -- and her team -- are really, really good at it, and as the track and field community gathers this week in St. Louis for the annual USATF convention, they deserve full recognition.

Fitzgerald Mosley came to work for USATF in the summer of 2009. She had been president and chief executive of Women In Cable Telecommunications, the oldest and largest group serving women professionals in the industry, for the eight years before that, managing an organization of nearly 8,000 members.

She gets both the big-picture stuff and the details, too. Critically, she also knows her way around the nuanced world of Olympic sport, business and politics; she was director of the U.S. Olympic Training Centers from 1997-2000. She is the 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the 100-meter hurdles.

It is not too much to say that no single person behind the scenes at USATF has -- or will have -- a bigger impact in the way the track and field team performs than Fitzgerald Mosley.

You saw it in Daegu, and you'll see it same next summer in London. The team won 25 medals in Daegu and but for the truly unexpected that elusive 30 might actually have happened -- and could well in 2012:

The Americans got all four men in the final 12 in Daegu in shot put, an event the U.S. has dominated; none got a medal. The U.S., traditionally strong in the 400-meter men's hurdles, got no medals despite two finalists. The Americans got no medals in pole vaulting, men's or women's, another typical strength.

That's of course what you see. What you don't is just as important, if not more so.

For instance, when Fitzgerald Mosley took over in 2009, she naturally reviewed the books, and noticed that "upwards of $100,000," which could gone toward athlete support, hadn't.

Now there's a defined four-tier system in place that spells out who's eligible for what funds. More than 80 percent of the athletes winning medals are in that system. "I thought we needed to make this as easy as possible," she said.

At the world championships two summers ago, the ratio of medical staff -- doctors, trainers, therapists, chiropractors -- to athletes was 20:1. This summer it was 10:1. "We heard the athletes," Fitzgerald Mosley said. "They said, 'It's not enough medical.' "

She added of the 2011 medical team, "We'll have the same medical staff coming back for the Olympics. It's just that important … That's what the [athletes] told us they want. They want as much consistency as possible."

And innovation where appropriate.

For instance, Randy Wilber, the U.S. Olympic Committee's senior sports physiologist,

brought -- for the first time -- 16 special cooling vests to Korea to help beat the crazy heat. The vests then got used a total of 33 times by 88 athletes. Where did they make special sense? In, for instance, the decathlon -- where Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton went 1-2.

To avoid a repeat of the 2008 bib episode, no one -- but no one -- gets out onto the track anymore without passing by Sharrieffa Barksdale, who is more or less the track team's "team mom."

Mind you, these are professional athletes, some of them huge stars, and you wouldn't think they would necessarily respond to an environment in which there's a team-wide talent show and, if you win a medal, there's sparkling cider and your hotel room door gets all dressed up with streamers. It's kind of like being back on a youth soccer team. But they eat it up. And you know why?

Because they're all a long way from home. And Sharrieffa Barksdale is empowered to make them feel like they're all in it together, as a team, making memories that will last a lifetime.

On the way to the team bus, she checks and double-checks your gear, to make sure you have everything -- there are known offenders, and she knows full well who's likely to forget his or jersey or socks -- and then she sends everyone out to the track with a poem. For real.

Barksdale, too, is a 1984 Olympian and, as well, Fitzgerald Mosley's former teammate at Tennessee. Barksdale, who lives now in Lexington, Ky., left the sport, then came back and brings a sense of been there-done that and an unreserved sense of joy.

She said, "I I really enjoy motivating the athletes, I think I bring a lot to the table," adding, "When they leave me, my motto is, 'Winners train. Losers complain.' Which one are you?"

In Daegu, the Americans were big winners. There's a reason why.

Fitzgerald Mosley is typically quick to deflect credit onto others. She typically says  she is simply grateful for the opportunity to be part of the team.

Benita, here's one day where you deserve some credit yourself.

"You think about 2008 and that women's relay, about showing up at the starting line and not having your number," she said. "It's because some manager forgot to pick up the package?

"We can't afford that. I remember almost crying," she said, an Olympian herself, just thinking about what that must have been like for the four women in that relay.

"We are going to get it down now to a science. We are going to dot every i and cross every t."