Getty Images

Allyson Felix eager to double again

Leave a comment

NEW YORK — Allyson Felix reflected on her trying season and looked ahead in an interview while at a USA Track and Field Hershey RunJumpThrow event across from Central Park earlier this month.

Felix, a nine-time Olympic medalist, spoke three weeks after taking silver in the 400m in Rio, competing after partially tearing two ligaments in her right ankle in late April.

She had hoped to go for a 200m-400m double in Rio — the Olympic schedule was even changed to make it more accommodating after her coach’s request — but, while slowed even more by the ankle, she finished fourth in the 200m at the Olympic Trials in July, missing the Olympic team in her trademark event by .01.

Here are highlights from the interview:

OlympicTalk: Given the circumstances, could you have asked for a lot more this year?

Felix: It was an insane year. I can put it into perspective now. I’m definitely still disappointed, even though things didn’t go as I planned before [the Olympics], I was still hoping to be able to pull it out. So Rio was really challenging for me. Even when I got there, it just seemed like things kept happening. It was a tough time, but I feel like I learned a lot of lessons. I’m so grateful that I was even able to have that experience.

OlympicTalk: Were you 100 percent in Rio?

Felix: I was good enough to compete. They told me [in Rio] I still have six months before my ankle is not going to feel anything, but I felt like I was good enough to go out there and compete. Ankles are just tricky. It’s one of those things where you’re still going to have residual pain. But it was nothing I couldn’t manage.

OlympicTalk: A lot of athletes ended their seasons at the Olympics — Usain Bolt, Wayde van Niekerk, Justin Gatlin. Why did you race in Zurich [on Sept. 1], especially coming off the ankle injury?

Felix: It’s always very tough to compete after a major championship. I had already made the commitment earlier in the year [to compete at the meet in the 200m], and the only 200m I had was at Olympic Trials. So I just wanted to see where I was at. I know I wasn’t prepared how I should be prepared, but I just wanted to kind of see where my speed was.

OlympicTalk: Did Zurich [finishing third behind the Olympic gold and silver medalists] give you any thought of how it would have gone in the 200m in Rio?

Felix: It’s never fun to lose, but that [Zurich] race was actually really encouraging because I know my preparation. And I know the speed work was not there. So to be able to come out and run 22, close to 22 flat, I know that once the [speed] work is there, I’ll be able to be competitive.

OlympicTalk: Do you see yourself as more of a 400m runner now?

Felix: No, I’m always hanging onto the 200m. I just feel like I haven’t ran it [the 200m] in the past few years, for one reason or the other [neither at the 2015 Worlds due to a tight schedule nor 2016 Olympics due to not qualifying]. The opportunity hasn’t quite been there. I’m excited, looking forward to this year [2017]. I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to do, but I know that I’m not done with the 200m yet.

OlympicTalk: Does what happened this year make you want to do the double even more or not do it?

Felix: It definitely does make me want to do it because my training was going so well before [the injury]. I’m just so curious what I could have done. That’s the thing that really eats me up, to know that I wasn’t at my best to be able to do it. To see where I would be in four years, I don’t know. Or at a world championships [in 2017 or 2019], I’m not sure.

OlympicTalk: Being a Los Angeles native, who would you choose to speak to the IOC members on LA 2024’s behalf at the vote next September?

Felix: I would love to see a lot of people who were around in ’84. Not necessarily L.A. home people, but people who were competing — Valerie Brisco-Hooks, even Jackie [Joyner-Kersee]. Even some great L.A. people who not so much connected to the [1984] Olympics, but Magic Johnson, just L.A. people in general. I think there are a great mix of people that are lobbying for this to come.

OlympicTalk: If you could change one thing about track and field to increase its popularity, what would it be?

Felix: That’s a really tough question. There’s a lot of things that we could alter, but I would love to see more street races. More events surrounding the sport where people can be up close to it, be entertained, instead of a traditional track meet.

OlympicTalk: Is there anybody you enjoy watching in track and field, not including training partners and friends?

Felix: I’m a fan of the sport, so there’s a number of them. I love watching [2012 Olympic 400m champion] Kirani [James] compete. Where the men’s 400m is now, I mean, Wayde [van Niekerk] was amazing. I think they never shy away from races. They’re competitors. I love watching the jumps. What Jeff [Henderson] did in Rio [in the long jump] was amazing. I love watching Emma [Coburn in the 3000m steeplechase], an event that is so foreign to me. She’s the sweetest.

MORE: Usain Bolt, coach differ on 2017 Worlds races

Michael Phelps on Ledecky, Bolt, McGregor, Boomer’s first words

AP
Leave a comment

NEW YORK — Michael Phelps sat down for a quick Q&A last week while visiting to promote Colgate’s #EveryDropCounts campaign

(condensed and lightly edited)

OlympicTalk: What was your favorite moment of the summer’s world swimming championships?

Phelps: I loved watching Caeleb [Dressel] do some of the things that he did. It’ll be interesting to see what his event program looks like over the next couple of years to see if he adds or takes away any events. It’s good to start at world championships and show and see that you can do it at a world championships. Now I would say it’s really trying to perfect that schedule. We started doing a schedule like that in ’02 or ’03, and it took us four to six years to really kind of figure out what the best way to do it was. We perfected it by Beijing.

Also Katie [Ledecky]. I’ve talked to Katie a little bit over the last couple of weeks. It’s fun to see and hear her excitement level. Coming off a world championships after an Olympic year is always challenging. The world championships after an Olympics is usually kind of blah. It’s going to be fun to watch her transition the next couple of years and see what happens.

It’s fun watching some of these younger guys now step up, younger women step up and swim some of the times they’re swimming. I literally said to [my agent] this morning, “I probably could come back, but I just have zero desire.”

Like, I have a friend who is in the process of making a choice to continue or to stop [competing]. I was like, yeah, it’s fun, I’m finally back into working out again, like, pretty big, where I’ve lost probably 12 to 15 pounds since my highest point. It’s just getting back into that rhythm. It’s something for me that’s so easy and so simple to do. I was like, “I think it would be really easy to do it [return to competitive swimming]. I just don’t have any goals. I have nothing to come back and want to do.”

OlympicTalk: What sense did you get from Ledecky of what she thought about her world championships performance?

Phelps: It’s tough to always drop time, right? I went almost six years without doing a best time [from 2011 Worlds to his 4x100m free relay split at the 2016 Olympics]. It’s annoying. It’s the worst. I absolutely hated it. But if you do have meaningful goals, and they do keep getting you out of bed every single morning to go in and try and perfect them, then you’ll be fine.

From an outsider looking on, my opinion, it’s hard to watch when she’s reached this high point where she’s basically broken every single world record countless times — over and over and over and over and over again. There are times you’ll plateau a hair. It just depends on what you do to make that next step. For me, I’m hoping she jumps. I’m hoping she takes a huge hurdle.

I basically just reached out and was like, I’d love to help. There are very few people that understand what you’re going through. Let me know if I can do anything.

It’s going to be fun to watch her really, I would say, almost go back to the basics. She obviously knows what to do to be the best. She’s proved it time and time again. It’ll be fun to watch her grow.

OlympicTalk: So you reached out to her?

Phelps: I reached out to her. Just checking to make sure she’s OK. There’s probably three or four people on the national team that I’ll talk to.

OlympicTalk: I’m wondering who that swimmer is who is thinking whether to come back.

Phelps: You’ll see soon enough.

OlympicTalk: American?

Phelps: Yeah.

OlympicTalk: Do you consider Dressel’s seven golds at worlds, with two in the new mixed-gender relays, the same as your feat in 2007?

Phelps: Obviously, seven gold medals is seven gold medals, right? For me, [2007 World Championships] was the first time I could have won eight [gold medals], but we DQed in morning [medley] relay.

You can’t take anything away from winning seven gold medals, right? There are very few people who have had that opportunity. It doesn’t matter if it’s a relay or an individual event. A relay event is kind of more challenging because we all have to work together.

I’m not a huge fan of the mixed relays, but I’m not in the sport anymore. But I think it is kind of cool that it’s basically a chess match, right? Try to figure out the best order [of male and female swimmers].

It’s going to be really challenging for anybody to put a team together that can beat the U.S. Our depth is just ridiculous.

OlympicTalk: Chase Kalisz said before worlds that you said some things to him after his Olympic silver medal that he won’t forget. What can you share about that?

Phelps: I just said if he wants to win a gold medal, make sure he always remembers what a silver feels like. There’s going to be countless days where he’s probably not going to want to go to work out. Or he’s probably not going to want to make that extra little bit of commitment to make sure he has a better chance to win that gold medal next time.

And you have every four years to have that chance. I just want to make sure the kid’s ready. I was always somebody who worked better with past experiences. If I had a defeat, that’s what made me get out of bed in the morning, to make sure I did not have that feeling of getting second. I hated getting second.

And I know how bad he wants to win [an Olympic] gold medal. He knows what he’s doing. He’s swimming well. He’s training well. He had a great year [sweeping the 200m and 400m individual medleys at worlds].

OlympicTalk: Did you watch Usain Bolt’s last races, and did it make you think of anything, the way it ended for him?

Phelps: I’m sure that’s probably not how he wanted it to end, somebody who has had great success for three Olympics, right?

Who knows, maybe he does come back and do something again? For me, that was the biggest thing of why I wanted to come back. I had that 400m IM and 200m butterfly in 2012 that just left a sour taste in my mouth. I didn’t want that for the rest of my life.

OlympicTalk: Have you heard anything from Conor McGregor?

Phelps: No. I don’t think I will. I don’t think he’ll reach out for a race.

OlympicTalk: Has Boomer spoken his first words?

Phelps: He wakes up every morning and screams “Da-Da!”

OlympicTalk: So does that count?

Phelps: I’m counting it. He said “Da-Da” before “Mom,” so yeah. I mean, that’s all he says. I’m the morning guy. I take the morning shift. So every morning he’s yelling dad at the top of his lungs.

OlympicTalk: You’ve spoken about your campaign with Colgate before. What’s new this time around?

Phelps: We’re becoming a family four, five if you add [eight-time Olympic medalist] Allison [Schmitt], and if you think, the average family per day can waste up to 400 gallons. We can waste so much water. It’s not just brushing your teeth or taking a shower. You think about everything else that goes into that. We have a big yard, so water in the yard. Always trying to make sure we’re saving every single drop. It’s something we can all work on together.

Since we first launched the campaign, I think I’ve found more and more that people are coming up and being like, every time I brush my teeth now I think of you and turn off the water. People are doing it, and we want to make another push to get people on board.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

VIDEO: Phelps says he could come back if he wanted to

Lolo Jones the latest bobsledder to suffer concussion effects

Lolo Jones
AP
Leave a comment

Lolo Jones said she suffered concussion symptoms after a Wednesday bobsled accident and that it’s “the weirdest injury” of her two-sport career.

“I’ve learned a lot in the past week about concussions and treatments,” was posted on her Instagram on Sunday. “This was the weirdest injury I’ve had in my life. Some days I would wake up feeling great and then one thing would have me dismantled in minutes. I’m grateful to sports med, my coaches and my teammates all who shut me down to protect my health.

Jones, one of 10 Americans to compete in both the Summer and Winter Olympics, joked that she used her free time off social media the last few days “to call up all of my exes because clearly I wasn’t thinking right.”

Jones was one of six push athletes named to the U.S. national team earlier this month. It’s expected that three of those six will make the Olympic team this winter.

The World Cup season starts the second weekend of November in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Concussions are not uncommon for bobsledders. Even with helmets, their high-speed crashes are high-risk.

Elana Meyers Taylor, a two-time Olympic medalist, suffered a concussion in a race crash on Jan. 26, 2015. The after-effects lasted into the following season, causing her to miss four races.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

MORE: U.S. bobsledders remember Steven Holcomb as Olympic season starts