After an Olympic-record semifinal, South Carolina-born Jasmine Camacho-Quinn of Puerto Rico demolished the women's 100m hurdles final Monday morning in Japan, delivering her nation its first women's track and field medal in Games history and redeeming an early exit five years ago.
The 24-year-old clocked 12.37 to defeat fellow ex-Kentucky Wildcat Keni Harrison of the United States, who matched her result from the last world championships with silver in 12.52.
In her Olympic debut at the Rio Games, Camacho-Quinn disqualified in the semifinal round after hitting the eighth and ninth hurdles and stumbling over the 10th. Still in college, she struggled in the aftermath and attributed the fall to youth and inexperience, eventually finding her footing as a pro with a positive mindset after multiple coaching changes.
Entering Tokyo Camacho-Quinn held the world lead, a 12.32 from April, and next two best times of the year. She was the top qualifier out of the first round, winning heat five in 12.41.
In the third semifinal she shattered Australian Sally Pearson's 12.35 Olympic record from the 2012 London Games in 12.26, moving her to joint-fourth fastest all-time.
Harrison won heat two of the prelims in 12.74 and followed it up with a second-place finish in section two of the semis in 12.51.
Jamaica's Megan Tapper set a 12.53 personal best in her first-round prelim behind Camacho-Quinn, to who she was runner-up again in the semis, and covered the final in 12.55 for bronze.
Harrison's high hurdles world record of 12.20 remained intact, a mark she set in 2016 weeks after missing out on a U.S. Olympic team spot.
A native of North Charleston, South Carolina, Camacho-Quinn won two NCAA 100m hurdles titles at Kentucky where she overlapped for one season with Sydney McLaughlin. While there, Harrison, who competed at the university from 2014-15, was a volunteer assistant coach.
Her mother Maria is from Puerto Rico, serving as the conduit for competition eligibility. She was first coached by her dad James, still at the helm of her high school's track and field team, and through volleyball and gymnastics gained essential skills that would help her in hurdling. Her brother is Chicago Bears linebacker Robert Quinn.
Camacho-Quinn's gold is just the second ever for Puerto Rico across all Olympic sports, arriving one Games cycle after Monica Puig's title in the women's tennis singles in Rio.
Javier Culson won Puerto Rico's first track and field medal, a bronze in the men's 400m hurdles at the 2012 London Games.