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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Hanyu, Miyahara into Grand Prix Final with wins at NHK Trophy

Yuzuru Hanyu
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Yuzuru Hanyu won the NHK Trophy in front of a home crowd in Japan in spectacular fashion – setting three world records – and qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the process.

He followed up his short program world record with a record setting free skate of 216.07 and a combined overall score record of 322.40.

China’s Boyang Jin finished second overall followed by Japan’s Takahito Mura. The U.S. Grant Hochstein finished fourth after an eighth-place finish in the short program.

Though the results are still unofficial, the men’s field in Barcelona will likely include no U.S. men, a streak that has continued since 2012. Max Aaron is eighth in the standings, but would be invited if he finished seventh overall. More on that the qualifying process here.

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Japan’s Satoko Miyahara took the ladies’ competition over the U.S.’ Courtney Hicks, who finished second in her first career Grand Prix circuit medal, and countrywoman Mao Asada, who finished third.

Ashley Wagner was fourth, the lowest place she could have to give her a berth to Barcelona. Wagner has earned a medal at every Grand Prix Final since 2012 (silver in 2012, and bronzes in 2013 and 2014).

Again, the overall standings are unofficial, but Miyahara, Asada, and Wagner should join Gracie Gold, Evgenia Medvedeva, and Elena Radionova in the Grand Prix Final.

Russia finished off the podium entirely in the ladies’ field – Alena Leonova and Anna Pogorilaya finished eitghth and ninth while Maria Artemieva finished 11th.

The last time no Russian women were on a Grand Prix podium – the final or otherwise – was in the 2012-13 season, where it happened a handful of times. Russian women have been featured on every Grand Prix circuit podium since the 2012-13 season, where they only missed out on Skate Canada, the Rostelecom Cup, the NHK Trophy, and the Grand Prix Final from that season. Names like Olympic gold medalists Adelina Sotnikova and Julia Lipnitskaya, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Elena Radionova, Pogorilaya, Leonova, and 2015 world junior champion Evgenia Medvedeva all contributed to that streak.

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U.S. pairs champions Alexa Scimeca and Chris Knierim earned a trip to Barcelona with a bronze medal in Japan. Leading the field in their ninth straight international win was Canadian pair Meaghan Duhamel and Eric Radford followed China’s Yu Xiaoyu and Jin Yang.

7 more Kenyan athletes banned for doping

Emily Chebet
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Two-time cross-country world champion Emily Chebet was among seven Kenyan athletes banned for doping Friday, another indication that the country has a serious problem of cheating among its famed distance runners.

Chebet, the cross-country world champion in 2010 and 2013, was banned for four years after testing positive for the diuretic and masking agent furosemide, the Kenyan athletics federation said.

The list of sanctions announced by Athletics Kenya included bans for the two runners that failed doping tests at the world championships in Beijing in August. Joyce Zakary and Koki Manunga, who were provisionally suspended at the worlds, also received four-year bans for furosemide.

There has been a recent spike in doping cases in Kenya and more than 40 athletes have now failed tests since 2012. Kenyan track officials are under scrutiny after allegations of doping cover-ups, and separate accusations of embezzlement of money at the national federation.

This week, a group of athletes stormed the federation headquarters in Nairobi demanding the resignation of top officials over the doping scandals and corruption allegations.

Along with her two cross-country world titles, the 29-year-old Chebet was a bronze medalist in the 10,000 meters at last year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Her ban was backdated to July 17 and she will be unable to compete until July 16, 2019.

The doping cases of Zakary, a 400-meter runner, and Manunga, a 400-meter hurdler, undermined Kenya’s impressive display at this year’s worlds, where the country tied with Jamaica for the most gold medals with seven. They failed targeted tests carried out by world athletics body the IAAF in Beijing, enhancing suspicions that doping in Kenya is widespread.

Zakary set a national record of 50.71 seconds at the worlds before her failed test. The two were banned until Aug. 24, 2019.

The other four athletes banned on Friday were Agnes Jepkosgei, Bernard Mwendia, Judy Jesire Kimuge and Lilian Moraa Marita.

Jepkosgei was banned for four years for testing positive for the anabolic steroid metabolite norandrosterone. Mwendia was given a two-year ban for norandrosterone. Kimuge was banned two years for the norandrolone and Marita two years for the blood-booster EPO.

A World Anti-Doping Agency panel that recently reported on a systematic program of doping cover-ups in Russia said that Kenya also has a serious doping problem. That has spurred speculation that, like Russia, Kenya could face a blanket ban from international competition.

The IAAF has opened investigations into allegations that track officials in Kenya were involved in covering up positive doping tests. In a separate investigation, the IAAF is also looking at accusations of corruption against top officials at Athletics Kenya after they were questioned by Kenyan police over the alleged embezzlement of around $700,000 of the federation’s money.

One of the officials accused, AK Vice President David Okeyo, is a member of the IAAF’s decision-making council. The athletes protesting at Athletics Kenya this week demanded that Okeyo and AK President Isaiah Kiplagat step down.