Allyson Felix

Allyson Felix could win 3 medals at World Championships, then look at 400 meters on horizon

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Allyson Felix finally conquered the Olympic 200 meters last year, but she goes into the World Track and Field Championships (and the next Olympic cycle) with more business to take care of.

Felix, 27, is the most decorated athlete in Moscow with 16 combined world and Olympic medals. She’s entered in the 200 (final on Aug. 16) and hopes to be part of both the 4×100 (final on Aug. 18) and 4×400 (final on Aug. 17) relays.

If she wins one gold medal, Felix will hold the record for most world golds (nine) by herself. She currently shares the mark with Carl Lewis and Michael Johnson.

If she wins one medal of any color, Felix will take the solo record for most world medals (11) by an American. She and Lewis both have 10.

With three medals, Felix will move within one of the all-time medal leader at the World Championships, Jamaican (turned Slovenian) Merlene Ottey.

World Track and Field Championships broadcast schedule

None of that is at the front of Felix’s mind right now. She took 2 1/2 months away from the track following her triple-gold performance at the London Olympics, starting her training for the new season later than ever before, she said.

She and coach Bobby Kersee took the approach going into June’s Nationals not to win, but to be good enough to finish in the top three and make the World Championships team.

“I knew that it would be a struggle to be at my best at Nationals,” Felix said in a phone interview from Moscow. “I feel like I’m never at my best there.”

Felix was beaten in the 200 final at Nationals for the first time since 2003, taking second to three-time NCAA outdoor 200 champ Kimberlyn Duncan. That defeat motivated her.

“It kept me very driven in my preparation, realizing I have a lot of work to do,” she said.

Felix aims to take back her world title in the 200. She won bronze in Daegu in 2011, when she experimented by running the 200 and the 400.

“Coming off last year where I had so much on my plate, it’s nice to be focusing on my favorite event,” said Felix, the world champ in the 200 in 2005, 2007 and 2009.

Her competition has changed since Daegu and even London. Reigning world silver medalist and Olympic bronze medalist Carmelita Jeter is only entered in the 100. Long-time rival Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica is not in Moscow after failing a drug test. Campbell-Brown’s absence has been noticed.

“It’s definitely different,” Felix said. “I’ve competed against her for so long that it’s kind of been a thing that’s normal for us (to face each other) at a championship.”

Felix comes in as the the seventh fastest woman in the 200 this year. Her biggest competition next week will be two-time Olympic 100-meter champion Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica and a couple of rising stars from Africa — the Ivory Coast’s Murielle Ahoure, 25, and Nigerian Blessing Okagbare, 24, who could medal in the 100, 200 and the long jump.

The question with Felix is always which event she’ll pair with the 200. In 2011, she added the 400 and won worlds silver. In 2012, she switched to the 100 and placed fifth in the Olympic final.

She took it easy this year, focusing on the 200, but she’s also looking toward a potential fourth Olympics in 2016. She’d like to give the 400 another shot.

“It’s still so far away, but we have kind of thought about it,” Felix said. “Definitely, I think I would be leaning more toward the 400. I still have potential in it, unexplored potential. My chances in 2016 would be better in the 400 than the 100.

“I just feel like I haven’t come anywhere close in the 400. I haven’t given it a true try. I would love to run the 100, though, I think that’s where my true love has always been. Realistically, the 400 is an event where I would have more success.”

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Kerri Walsh Jennings’ next partner is a familiar one

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Kerri Walsh Jennings is slated to play with with 2008 Olympian Nicole Branagh this summer, after she and Olympic bronze medal teammate April Ross split last month.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time Olympic champion with Misty May-Treanor before that bronze in Rio, and Branagh, who made the Beijing Games quarterfinals with Elaine Youngs, are entered in an FIVB World Tour event in Croatia the last week of June.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are both 38 years old and briefly paired in 2010 when May-Treanor was uncertain about making a run for the London Olympics. When May-Treanor told Walsh Jennings she was all-in for London, Walsh Jennings split from Branagh.

Walsh Jennings and Branagh are hoping to play together through the World Tour Finals in late August, according to Volleyball Magazine.

That includes the world championships in Vienna, Austria, in late July and early August.

It’s not known if they will have the combined ranking points to earn an outright worlds spot. They could also receive a wild card for worlds. Entries will be announced next month.

Walsh Jennings, a mother of three, has said she hopes to play in the 2020 Olympics at age 41, when she will be older than any previous Olympic beach or indoor volleyball player, according to Olympic historians.

Branagh returned to competition this year after a one-year break to have her second child. She has played few international events since 2012 and last won internationally in 2010 (with Walsh Jennings).

Ross, an Olympic silver and bronze medalist and 2009 World champion, is now partnered with Lauren Fendrick, who played with Brooke Sweat in Rio. Ross, 34, said she will figure out her long-term partner plans for Tokyo 2020 after this season.

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Catching up with Ross Powers

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Ross Powers, now 38 years old and 15 years removed from his Olympic snowboarding title, is still out with halfpipe riders on the snow five days per week.

The difference now is that Powers is coaching. He runs the snowboarding program at Stratton Mountain School in Vermont, where he graduated from in 1997.

Powers spoke with OlympicTalk before last season, reflecting on 20 years of snowboarding in the Olympics, Shaun White and how he likes coaching.

OlympicTalk: The PyeongChang Winter Games will mark 20 years since snowboarding’s debut in Nagano. What was it like competing in the first Olympic halfpipe?

Powers (who won bronze in Nagano at age 19): It seemed kind of like a regular World Cup. We were up in the mountains. At the time, it was a really good halfpipe, but we ended up competing in some bad weather, some rain. I didn’t realize until I left Japan and got home how big the Olympics were. But looking back, it was a special time. And I really learned from the ’98 Olympics, like if I get this chance again, I’m going to go there, I’m going to do it all. I’m going to go to Opening Ceremonies, Closing Ceremonies, watch as many events as I can and just make the most out of the Games.

OlympicTalk: The Nagano halfpipe was about half the size of today’s superpipes (394 feet long with 11 1/2-foot walls vs. 590 feet with 22-foot walls in Sochi). Could today’s snowboarders compete with you guys back in 1998?

Powers: It was so different. At the time, I want to say it was the biggest pipe we rode, but compared to today’s standards, it’s small. The weather was tricky. I think a lot of those guys [today] could ride it, but it’s so much different than today’s halfpipe for sure.

OlympicTalk: In 2002, when you led a U.S. men’s halfpipe medal sweep, the rider who just missed the Olympic team was a 15-year-old Shaun White. What do you remember about him?

Powers: You kind of knew he was going to be the next guy. Where he took our sport and certain tricks. One thing that really impressed me about him is he’ll train really hard for an event, show up, even if the conditions are bad, he’s planned this trick he wants to do, and he’ll try it no matter what. Most of the time he’ll give it a go and land it. That actually hurt him in Russia [White attempted but couldn’t perfect the YOLO Flip 1440 in Sochi] because he probably could have stepped down a notch, gotten a medal and maybe even won the event.

OlympicTalk: Did Shaun ever beat you before you retired?

Powers: I had my run from 1998, ’99, ’00, ’01, all those times that I was doing really well. I tried to make the 2006 Olympics in Italy. I was the alternate, so I just missed that. He was definitely beating me up through those times.

OlympicTalk: Did you travel to the Torino Olympics as an alternate?

Powers: I did, yeah. I traveled over there and actually watched my buddy [Seth] Wescott win the gold in boarder cross. That night, he was like, you should try boarder cross. That kind of got me into doing that my next few years after that.

[Editor’s Note: Powers almost made the 2010 Olympic team in snowboard cross, even finishing third in a December 2009 World Cup.]

OlympicTalk: Which is tougher, coaching or competing?

Powers: I would say it is tougher coaching than competing. You just have so many responsibilities and so much work. The nice thing about coaching, though, compared to competing, is you can kind of push yourself and have fun [riding] on certain days but then also sit back and really work with the athletes on all other days. So when you’re feeling it, you can push yourself. So it’s not like an athlete, where you have to push yourself.

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