BEIJING A few fun-loving fresh faces have suddenly turned Jamaica into the "World's Fastest Nation."
And that supposed U.S. track and field juggernaut? Well, things aren't quite going according to plan.
Right fist thrust overhead as she crossed the finish line all alone, silver braces shining in the Bird's Nest lights as she hopped in celebration like the 21-year-old she is, little-known Shelly-Ann Fraser won the women's 100 meters Sunday night in 10.78 seconds to help make these Olympics a sweeping success for the Caribbean island.
Fraser was followed across the line, steps later, by teammates Sherone Simpson and Kerron Stewart, who both finished in 10.98 and both collected silvers giving Jamaica the first sweep of medals in a women's 100 by any nation at any Olympics or world championships.
That impressive display came one day after Usain Bolt's easy-as-could-be, hot-dogging, record-breaking victory in the men's 100 giving Jamaica the first sweep of men's and women's 100 golds at any Olympics since 1988.
Not bad for a nation of 2.8 million, about the population of Chicago. Not bad for a nation that long has produced top sprinters but never an Olympic dash champion, man or woman, before this wonderful 2-for-2 weekend.
"I was speechless yesterday for a while. Today I cried," Jamaica's minister of sport, Olivia Grange, said. "Little Jamaica our country is blessed with some of the best, if not the best, talent you can find."
Now compare and contrast. The single 100 bronze for the United States, earned by Walter Dix, amounts to the country's worst combined showing in the men's and women's dashes at an Olympics since earning zero medals in the 100 at both the 1980 Moscow Games where, let's remember, a boycott prevented any Americans from competing and the 1976 Montreal Games.
"We've dominated for years, and now it's their time," said Lauryn Williams, the 2004 Olympic silver medalist and 2005 world champion and one of three U.S. women who never mounted a challenge during Sunday's final.
"We're getting a pretty good taste of what it's like to be at the bottom," Williams said.
The United States protested the results in the women's 100, asking that the race be reviewed because of a possible false start by American Torri Edwards who wound up last. The appeal was swiftly rejected, and the biggest consequence was that the Jamaican women would have to wait until Monday to receive their medals at a postponed ceremony.
Not that a ruling for the U.S. would have made much of a difference. The Jamaicans, particularly Fraser, were so much better that it's hard to imagine the outcome being much different if the race were run again.
It was all part of an all-around rough day for the Stars and Stripes, beginning in the morning, when U.S. record-holder and 2004 bronze winner Deena Kastor quit because of a broken right foot about three miles into the women's marathon won by Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania.
Then, in the men's 1,500 meters, two-time Olympic medalist Bernard Lagat, U.S. team flagbearer Lopez Lomong and NCAA champion Leo Manzano all naturalized citizens making their Olympic debuts for their new country failed to reach the final.
"I gave everything I had," said Lagat, who won a silver and bronze representing his native Kenya at the past two Summer Games.
There was more bad news when 2004 relay gold medalist Dee Dee Trotter and Mary Wineberg flopped in the women's 400 semifinals.
At least favorite Sanya Richards left everyone in her semifinal well behind by the halfway mark and coasted home in 49.90 seconds, the fastest time by nearly a quarter-second in any of the three heats.
Richards could be part of a stronger upcoming presence for the Americans, with the potential for a sweep in Monday's men's 400-meter hurdles.
Still, it'll be tough to top what Jamaica already has done and make track and field at these Olympics be remembered as anything other than Jamaica's coming-out party, replete with reggae music echoing through the stadium.
Fraser called it a "crazy Bolt Effect."
Bolt talks about his love of dancing and preparing for the biggest moment of his life with a combination of TV watching, nap taking and chicken-nugget eating.
Fraser bared her braces with a wide, gee-whiz smile when her name was announced over the loudspeakers as the contestants waited to fold themselves into the starting blocks for the final. It was a striking contrast to the total lack of expression on the faces of Edwards and Williams.
Bolt and Fraser were both relatively unheralded in the individual 100 before this season. They also share an age and now so much more.
Like Bolt, Fraser celebrated before her work was done, cocking her fist back over her shoulder and punching the air as she arrived at the finish line. Nothing on the scale of Bolt's arms-extended, palms-up, chest-slapping display, mind you, but an in-stride, in-race celebration nonetheless.
And, also like Bolt, Fraser won by a whopping two-tenths of a second, a significant margin in such a short race, and the largest in the women's Olympic 100 final since 1988, when Florence Griffith-Joyner broke the world record to win gold.