In preparation for next week’s USA Outdoor Championships at Drake Stadium June 20-23 in Des Moines, Iowa, USA Track & Field held a national media teleconference with recently crowned NCAA champions Brigetta Barrett and Brianna Rollins.
A University of Arizona senior, Barrett is the reigning Olympic silver medalist in the women’s high jump and claimed her sixth NCAA indoor and outdoor title in Eugene last week. She takes the second best jump in the world this year into the outdoor championships.
One week ago, Clemson University junior Brianna Rollins twice set the collegiate record in the women’s 100m hurdles at the NCAA Outdoor Championships. She currently holds the top two times in the world this year. You can read excerpts from the teleconference below.
On competing at the USA Outdoor Championships
“USAs (Outdoor Championships) are always a great event for me. It’s always a very exciting time. I’m coming right off the collegiate season, so I’m definitely looking to get another PR (personal record). I’m definitely aiming for the American record. I definitely have my sights and goal up there, so I can prepare to make sure I am in good position to do really well at Worlds (Outdoor Championships) and to PR at another world championship. Just to really do what we have been working on and pretty much preparing for the last four years.”
On winning her sixth NCAA national title
“It was a bittersweet moment. I would say it was a confidence boost because I feel like we were able to put some things together that we were working on in practice. With aggression you have to be able to be relaxed at the same time. If you don’t have aggression you can’t just pull it out of the sky. You have to have that. For that to come out at NCAAs was right on time for what we are working on physically, mentally and technically. Working to really get prepared to do well outdoors and refine those things for the world championship season.
On returning to Arizona following winning an Olympic medal
“I came back trying to be as normal as possible. I go to class and the whole class is like, ‘Oh, girl that’s you.’ This one girl I remember her sitting next to me and she gets all red in the face and starts crying. And I don’t know how to react to moments like that. We are not trained to react to people putting us on this really huge pedestal. Or just really being in awe of us. I try to have a normal conversation with them. Or times when I’m eating breakfast in the cafeteria at the union, and people will ask timidly, ‘Can I eat with you?’ And I’m like ‘Yeah, let's have breakfast together.’ Eventually, I just accept it. It’s an honor to be so highly regarded by my peers and my elders. I just try to make sure I’m being the role model everyone needs me to be so they can go out and achieve the same thing or even greater things.”
On her goals for the USA Outdoor Championships
“I’m going for the American record. I’m going to be a USA champion. And going to qualify for Worlds; to stamp my ticket to Russia. My goal for the World Championships is to win. I know that I am just as talented as these girls. I work just as hard as these girls. If anything, I feel like I possibly work harder than them because I didn’t get to rest like they did. I got thrown right into the collegiate season as soon as I came back from London. I’ve been training really hard to make sure I’m ready to compete at the world level and compete against these women that I know I can beat. Getting second in the Olympics is very freeing for me. It was my first time at the Olympics. I medaled at the Olympics, I PRed at the Olympics. There is nothing that I cannot do. The only thing I have to do is make sure I’m ready in my mind and I’m ready in my body. And I know what God has for me is for me.”
Is your approach different this year?
“When I came back every now and then we will play around playing with an eight step. If we are early in our training or don’t want to go to hard. Then, we moved to the 10-step and then the 12-step. For the past couple of weeks, we have been going back and forth between the 10 and 12. I think we are locked in on the 10-step.”
What’s it like competing in an event as competitive as the women’s high jump?
“It’s a lot fun but it’s different. I really love competing with the collegiate girls. We have all grown together and I’ve seen most of them since freshman year. And even if we see a new face we are very welcoming. We also get to see each other grow as high jumpers. We see each other all the time. So it’s a very different type of environment. Nobody is jumping for money. No one is mad if someone else jumps better than them because it’s not like they have to worry about money to feed their family. When you get to the international level, you realize it is a business. You still want to enjoy what you are doing, but I realize that I can’t have fun with those girls the way I can have fun with the college girls. When I’m on the world circuit, I’m here, this is something that I’ve worked for. Now, I’m here and I get another chance to prove myself. I feel like I definitely proved myself very early in the collegiate realm, but I’m still trying to prove myself, I’m still in the process of proving and expressing dominance on the world level. It’s not my world yet on the world circuit. That’s what I’m aiming for.
What height do you have in mind to reach this year?
“At least 2.06m. And then as close to the world record as possible. This year my main focus has been becoming the American record holder, win the world championship, and do whatever it takes to win the worlds. And be consistent.”
Did you grow up idolizing any of the athletes you’ll be competing against?
“Growing up I really didn’t run track until I got into high school. So I wouldn’t really know the big names until then. I actually didn’t watch them until I got into college and I’ve gotten a lot better.”
On how she sees her opportunity as a hurdler
“It’s a blessing. It’s a huge opportunity If it’s the Lord’s will that I make the world team, I’ll take advantage of it. Do the best that I can.”
On how she got into hurdling
“When I was in high school, it was my first year ever running track. I spoke with my high school coach and I said, ‘I want to do the hurdles’ and she said, ‘Sure, go ahead try them.’ And since them, I’ve been doing the hurdles.”
Do you see yourself differently after NCAA Championships?
“I don’t see myself any differently. I try to stay as humble as I can be. Don’t let anything go to my head and continue to work hard.”
On goals for next week and the World Outdoor Championships
“My goal is to try and make the team. I want to focus on running good races. I don’t try to put any times on myself. I try to stay technically sound. And do what I have to do at the USA Outdoor Championships.”
When did you realize you were fast?
“I was always told I was fast and that I should try out for the track team. So when I got to high school I did.”
On what sports she did growing up
“Honestly, I had no clue of doing anything as far as sports is concerned when I was growing up. Track was something my mom did, so it did cross my mind a couple of times. And I just decided to do it when I got in high school.”
What made you decide to run track?
“It was just something I wanted to do. I found out I could and get a scholarship and I took advantage of the opportunity.”
Why are such a good technical hurdler?
“Coach Johnson thinks hurdling is a technical race, so we work on that a lot. I try to get that down to a ‘T’ so I can have great races and I can accomplish great things.”
What could you improve on from you NCAA final race?
“I wouldn’t say it was perfect because no one runs a perfect race. But I felt I ran a good technical race. And it was very smooth; it felt relaxed. I look back on my tapes to see what I could do better and what I could improve on for the next race.”
Did your teammates tease you about being on Sportscenter’s Top 10?
“I’m always getting teased by teammates. It was pretty awesome to be on Sportscenter. A lot of them told me I was on and I thought it was exciting.”
Why are you being teased by your teammates?
“They just tell me how well I’m doing and they know I don’t like the attention a lot. That’s why they tease me a lot. I’m very shy. I try to embrace it now. I understand this comes with it.”
What made you want to run the hurdles?
“It just looked so fun and I wanted to try it. I enjoyed when I started doing it.”
How many times during the first year did you smash your knee?
“I can’t even count. I feel so many times and fell some many times you get you use to it.”