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Felix has multiple golds in mind for London

July 5, 2012

EUGENE, (Oregon ) : No American runner likely will have more opportunities to medal in the London Games than sprinter Allyson Felix.

But that is the way the slender Californian with the big competitive heart likes it.

Since joining the new wave of U.S. sprinters as a teenager at the 2004 Olympics the likeable Felix has been piling up medals in a full schedule of events at global competitions.

Now that a controversial dead heat for third place in the women’s 100 metres at the U.S. Olympic trials has been settled, the 26-year-old will put her speed and flowing hair on the track in the 100 and 200 metres sprints and most likely the 4×100 and 4×400 metres relays.

She has legitimate chances of medalling in all but the 100 with a 200 metres gold medal the centre of attention.

“That’s what my goal is for these Games,” Felix told Reuters. “That’s what is missing.”

Gregarious, well-spoken and attractive, Felix not only has range in her running but the type of personality adored by sponsors and the media.

Her coach Bob Kersee has likened her to a modern-day Wilma Rudolph, the 1960 U.S. Olympic gold medallist at 100, 200 and 4×100 relay.

“I don’t think Allyson is quite as tall as Wilma, but she (Wilma) kind of had that gazelle, slender look,” Kersee said.

Felix, though, has more range than Rudolph and last year became the first US woman in her career to win national championships at 100, 200 and 400.

Gold wanted

Twice she has gone for the top medal in the Olympic 200m only to be left with silver by Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown.

The results are much better in world championships for some reason, with Felix taking three consecutive titles over the Jamaican before Campbell-Brown won out last year.

Nine times a world indoor or outdoor gold medallist, Felix went for an outdoor grand slam in 2011 and broke even.

She gathered in gold in both relays, but was stifled in the individual events, slipping to second place in the 400 and third in the 200.

“At the end I was pretty wiped out,” said Felix.

Success in all four would have made her one of the most recognizable Americans in the London Games.

So she has taken a different route this year, going for the shorter double in the 100 and 200 metres and placing more emphasis on speed in training.

“It was just critical for where I wanted to be in the 200,” Felix said.

“I just didn’t feel like myself,” she said of the 2011 world championships 200m. “I didn’t have normal burst in the home stretch.”
She certainly had that burst in the U.S. trials final, where an explosive run through the bend propelled her to the sixth-fastest 200m of all-time and the fastest in 14 years.

The race proved running the 100 first in major competitions helps her 200, she said.

The daughter of a minister-professor and a schoolteacher, Felix, a devout Christian herself, did not discover competitive running until she was a teen-ager.

Others poked fun at her thin legs, calling her “Chicken Legs”. But by 2004 she was winning her first Olympic medal in the 200.

She originally was planning to attend the University of Southern California and compete for the college team, but a rich professional contract that included payment of her education led her to turn professional before the Games.

Her brother Wes, a 200m runner in college, serves as her manager.

Felix balanced books and running, obtaining her degree in elementary education from Southern California.

And the Olympic medals kept coming, another silver in the 200 and a gold in the 4×400 metres relay in 2008.

“What you look to accomplish is a little different each time,” the three-time Olympian said of the Games. “(Now) it’s more business but I am extremely passionate and having fun with it.”

London will not likely be the last stop either.

“I definitely think one more (Olympics) and then we will see,” said Felix.



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