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.
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.”