Brittany Brown reacting after the women's 200-meter final at the IAAF World Athletics Championships Doha 2019 on Oct. 2, 2019 in Doha, Qatar.
DOHA, Qatar -- Brittany Brown was surprised when an autograph collector stopped her last week as she entered a local mall and asked for her signature.
He had a good eye. On Wednesday night, Brown won a silver medal at the IAAF World Championships, bringing Team USA its first podium in the women's 200-meter since 2011.
“Maybe he knew!” Brown said with a laugh.
Dina Asher-Smith of Great Britain won the gold with a time of 21.88, a new national record. In an exhilarating finish, she held off Brown, who lowered her personal best for the second time this week and clocked 22.22 seconds.
Mujinga Kambundji of Switzerland took the bronze in 22.51 seconds.
Team USA also claimed the fourth- and fifth-place finishes, with Angie Annelus posting a time of 22.59 and Dezerea Bryant just behind at 22.63.
Brown wore a distinctive look with her hair in a style she used when she was an 11-time All-American for the University of Iowa.
“People call it Mickey Mouse or Minnie Mouse,” she said. “I tried it again and it worked out. It might be my thing.”
That was the only thing Mickey Mouse about her race, although Brown, 24, struggled to remember it.
“You’re running and it just happens so fast,” she said. “The anticipation before is really scary, but once you’re in it, it’s like, OK, you’re done.”
Brown said her start has come a long way this season since she began working on it. But Asher-Smith got out even better Wednesday night, and was running strong in Lane 7 just outside of Brown.
“It kind of made me tense up,” Brown said, “but at the same time, it also made me focus on what I need to do.”
Known as a good closer, the California native pulled away from the rest of the field on the homestretch, ending that eight-year dry spell for Team USA.
“I’m just glad to set it off for us,” Brown said. “I know in the next year, Tokyo 2020, there’ll be more girls up there and I’m just happy to set the tone.
“We’re coming out even hungrier next year.”
Well, actually, Brown was pretty hungry Wednesday night and she knew how she wanted to celebrate.
“I’m just looking for some OREOs,” she said.
The odds were favorable for Team USA to garner a medal in the 200 at Khalifa International Stadium since no other country had three athletes in the final.
"Just coming into this meet, a lot of people had doubts, so all three of us being able to make it is just a blessing," said Bryant, who was the 2019 national champion.
Asher-Smith, who also won the silver medal in the 100-meter, was fourth in the 200 in 2017, but moved into the favorite's role during the rounds after some of the top contenders began dropping like flies.
First, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, fresh off her win in the 100, pulled out of the 200 heats the next day. She said it was her coach's decision.
Then two-time defending world champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands and Marie-Josee Ta Lou of Ivory Coast, the 2017 world silver medalist, scratched due to injury. Another contender, Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria, was disqualified for stepping outside of her lane. And Shaunae Miller-Uibo of Bahamas, who had posted the fastest time in the world this year, never entered.
That cleared the way for Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who swept the 100 and 200 at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 and was fourth in the 100 here. But Thompson scratched from her semifinal because of lingering Achilles' tendon problems. In the first round, Thompson lost to Brown, who posted her first personal best, a time of 22.33 seconds.
So the stage was set for some new names to make the podium.
“After I got through the rounds, I was like, ‘OK, I can actually medal,’” Brown said. “’I can be on this stage. I can compete with these girls.’ Not only did I do that, I PRed.
And, she said, “I didn’t know I was running that fast.”
Brown credited her support system, including older sister Brandi, a former international basketball player who arranged to come to Doha after Brown finished second at nationals.
“Without them, I’m nothing,” Brown said.
The 200 used to be a Team USA stronghold, especially from 2005 to 2009 when Allyson Felix won three gold medals in a row.
Team USA had three finalists in 2011, with Carmelita Jeter and Felix going 2-3 behind Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica. Felix was doubling that year in the 400, in which she placed second.
The medal drought began in 2013 when Jeneba Tarmoh was fifth, ChaRonda Williams came in sixth and Felix tore her right hamstring about 40 meters into the final, letting out a scream and dropping to the ground.
Candyce McGrone took fourth place in 2015, with Tarmoh in sixth.
And two years ago Deajah Stevens was fifth and Kimberlyn Duncan placed sixth.
After the semifinals, Brown was asked her favorite memory being in Doha.
"Just being here, honestly," she answered.
Brown has a new favorite memory now.
“Oh, yeah, it’s out the window,” she said. “Now I have a medal, it trumps everything.”