Allyson Felix, one of the greatest sprinters of all time, is all set to take part in her fifth straight Olympics, and first as a mother, after qualifying for Tokyo 2020 with a typically gritty performance.
The 35-year-old American is the only female track and field athlete to win six Olympic gold medals and also has three silver medals to tie the all-time record. She is also the most decorated athlete, male or female, in World Athletics Championships history with 18 career medals, 13 of them being gold.
Felix made her Olympic debut at Athens 2004 at 18 years of age and reaching another one at 35 shows how great an athlete she is. At an age when most track and field athletes reach the end of their career, she found a remarkable second wind to reach, what she has said will be, her final Olympics.
Felix has had an incredibly long and decorated career, as her World Athletics Championships record indicates, but her runs at the Olympic Games highlight her longevity. At her peak, she could outstrip the field with her speed in the 200m.
In her very first Olympics, she won silver in 200m finishing second behind only Jamaica veteran Veronica Campbell Brown.
She dominated the field in the four years since but fell just short of becoming the Olympic champion at Beijing 2008. Campbell Brown pipped her in a photo finish.
But Felix would not be denied the tag of being an individual Olympic champion for long. She kept winning gold medals in the next few years, extending her star to the 400m race as well. And at London 2012, she dominated the field, that also included old rival Campbell Brown, to finally become the 200m champion after two straight silvers.
That was her only individual title at the Olympics. She narrowly missed out on another Focussing more on her 400m in the latter stage of her career, she finished behind Shaunae Miller in the 400m, a moment controversial for the eventual winner’s dive at the finish line.
Additionally, Felix has also won five additional Olympic gold medals as a member of the United States’ women’s relay teams: three at 4 × 400 meters (2008-2016), and two at 4 x 100 meters (2012 and 2016).
Felix's Olympics medals
|Gold||2008 Beijing||4×400 m relay|
|Gold||2012 London||200 m|
|Gold||2012 London||4×100 m relay|
|Gold||2012 London||4×400 m relay|
|Gold||2016 Rio de Janeiro||4×100 m relay|
|Gold||2016 Rio de Janeiro||4×400 m relay|
|Silver||2004 Athens||200 m|
|Silver||2008 Beijing||200 m|
|Silver||2016 Rio de Janeiro||400 m|
In 2021, Felix booked her place at a fifth straight Olympics producing a gritty display to snatch second place in the 400m at the US track and field trials. She seemed to be fading out of contention coming down the stretch. But in her signature manner, she dug deep to reel in the field and claim second place, a result which was greeted with the loudest roar of the night.
This is significant because the American resumed her track and field career less than a year after she almost lost her life due to the complications arising from the premature birth of her daughter. In November 2018 Felix had her first child, Camryn through an emergency C-section and spent the next month in the neonatal intensive care unit as her baby fought for her life. But even for an athlete as decorated as her, returning to the sport after childbirth was not easy. Shepublicly took on her sponsor Nike over unfair maternity rules and testified before the US Congress over racial inequality in healthcare.
Back on track, 35-year-old has already won more medals since resuming after a maternity break. The American won gold in the 4x400m relay and the 4x400m mixed-gender relay at the 2019 World Championship in Doha less than a year after giving birth.
Now, she has set her sights on a final hurrah at the Olympics.
During the pandemic, she said she and her coach, the famous Bobby Kersee, had been forced to improvise after being denied access to a running track. Felix was forced to re-adjust her training regimen last year. On the bright side, Felix said the postponement had at least allowed her daughter the opportunity be more aware of her mother’s track career.
“Society tells us a lot of times that if you have a child [then] your best moments are behind you. But that’s absolutely not the case. I am representation of that,” Felix told reporters after securing her Tokyo 2020 spot.
Bonus: A history of Allyson Felix’s Olympic medals
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