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Allyson Felix eager to double again

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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

Tori Bowie upsets Elaine Thompson; Gatlin, Felix struggle at Pre

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Tori Bowie ran a statement 200m at the Pre Classic, clocking the fastest-ever time before the month of June and upsetting Olympic champion Elaine Thompson of Jamaica.

And she called it a training race.

“My coach made it clear that we were just training for nationals,” Bowie, huffing and puffing after winning in 21.77 seconds, told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “No pressure at all.”

Bowie, the Olympic 100m silver medalist and 200m bronze medalist, beat her personal best by .22 of a second.

While Bowie starred, U.S. stalwarts Allyson Felix and Justin Gatlin dropped to fifth-place finishes Saturday.

Full Pre Classic results are here.

Athletes are preparing for the U.S. Championships from June 23-25, a qualifying meet for the world championships in London in August.

Felix finished fifth in the 200m behind Bowie, Olympic 400m champion Shaunae Miller, Thompson and Olympic 200m silver medalist Dafne Schippers.

“Not that great, not that great today,” Felix said, according to meet officials. “I feel like my training is going well, it was good to get out here and see where I was at.”

Felix has a bye into the worlds in the 400m as defending world champion but is no longer a medal favorite in the 200m, where she won Olympic silver in 2004 and 2008 and gold in 2012. She clocked 22.33 seconds for fifth Saturday, which was .35 behind third-place Thompson.

Felix missed the 2016 Olympic team in the 200m by .01 while slowed by an ankle injury. But in 2015, a healthy Felix ran faster than 22.33 in all four of her 200m races.

Gatlin finished fifth in the 100m in 9.97 seconds, continuing his slowest season in recent years. At 35 years old, he is no longer looking like the top rival to Usain Bolt, who debuts in his farewell season June 10.

In fact, Gatlin may be in danger of not making the U.S. team in the 100m, which will be the top three finishers at nationals in four weeks.

In contrast, American Ronnie Baker is looking like a medal contender. He won Saturday in 9.86 seconds, which would be the fastest time in the world this year if not for too much tailwind (2.4 meters/second).

Baker, 23, has been a surprise this season, breaking 10 seconds a total of three times including Saturday. He was eliminated in the 2016 Olympic Trials semifinals and had not broken 10 seconds with legal wind before this year.

“My thoughts were, I’ve got every chance to win this just as much as everyone else does,” Baker told Lewis Johnson on NBC. “9.86 is unbelievable.”

Norway’s Jakob Ingebrigtsen, a 16-year-old, became one of the youngest-ever to break four minutes in the mile. He finished 11th against a field of older runners.

Four-time Olympic champion Mo Farah held off Ethiopian Yomif Kejelcha to extend his 5000m winning streak to 11 meets dating to 2013. Farah clocked 13:00.7 to Kejelcha’s 13:01.21.

It marked Farah’s last track race in the U.S. as the Oregon-based Brit plans to switch to marathon running after the world championships in August.

Rio gold medalist Caster Semenya barely extended her 800m undefeated streak to 16 finals. The scrutinized South Africa edged Olympic bronze medalist Margaret Wambui by one tenth of a second, clocking 1:59.78.

Olympic champion Omar McLeod took the 110m hurdles in 13.01 seconds, the fastest time in the world this year. McLeod beat a field that included Aries Merritt, the 2012 Olympic champion and world-record holder (12.80), and 2013 World champion David Oliver.

Christian Taylor, a two-time Olympic champion, recorded the third-best triple jump of all time, 18.11 meters.

Rio bronze medalist Sam Kendricks won the pole vault against a field that included Olympic champion Thiago Braz of Brazil, world-record holder Renaud Lavillenie of France and Swedish phenom Armand Duplantis, a Louisiana high school junior. Kendricks cleared 5.86 meters.

Olympic bronze medalist Ashley Spencer won the 400m hurdles in 53.38 seconds, a personal best and the fastest time in the world this year. Olympic champion Dalilah Muhammad was fifth in her first 400m hurdles race of the year.

In the shot put, Olympic champion Ryan Crouser unleashed a 22.43-meter throw to beat a field including world champion Joe Kovacs.

Jasmin Stowers won the 100m hurdles in 12.59 seconds, .03 off the fastest time in the world this year. The field lacked suspended Olympic champion Brianna Rollins and world-record holder Keni Harrison, who recently suffered a broken hand.

Russian Maria Lasitskene won the high jump in her first competition outside of Russia since 2015, when she was world champion. Lasitskene competed as a neutral athlete Saturday as Russia is still banned from international competition due to its poor anti-doping record. Her 2.03-meter clearance matched the best in the world since June 2013.

The Diamond League continues in Rome on June 8, with coverage on NBC Sports Gold.

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VIDEO: Runner clocks No. 2 time ever … after stopping to fix shoe

Mo Farah on Oregon Project allegations: ‘I’m sick of it’

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EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — As he prepares for what could be his final track race on U.S. soil, Mo Farah remains dogged by doping allegations surrounding his team.

The British Olympian will race the 5000m Saturday at the Prefontaine Classic, the only U.S. stop in the elite Diamond League series (NBC, NBC Sports Gold from 4-6 p.m. ET).

Farah has said that 2017 will be his last year on the track, with an eye on the world championships in London this August. The 34-year-old plans to transition after that to marathons.

Farah defended his 5000m and 10,000m titles at the Rio Olympics last August, becoming the first British track and field athlete to win four Olympic gold medals. He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth last December.

But at a news conference for the Prefontaine, Farah faced questions about allegations that paint his team, Nike’s Oregon Project, in a bad light.

Details have emerged from a 2016 report prepared by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency on practices by the team, led by decorated U.S. marathoner Alberto Salazar. Allegations have also surfaced recently based on information obtained by the hacking group known as Fancy Bears.

“I just get sick of it, really, to be honest with you,” Farah said. “As an athlete you just want to do the best as you can, and that’s what I want to do. But it’s nothing new. It’s something the press likes to be able to twist it and add a little bit of spices and add stuff on it. Being an Olympic champion, four-time Olympic champion, you do get a lot of that stuff. But at the same time you just have to do the best that you can. I believe in clean sports.”

He said he has not read the USADA report that has shown up online.

“It’s nothing new. You tell me something new. Since 2011 it’s the same stuff,” Farah said, clearly exasperated. “It’s all right. That’s what you get being an Olympic champion, and what we do.”

Farah has been training for the past five months in Flagstaff, Ariz., for the outdoor season and his final bow at the worlds. He hopes to run both of his signature races, the 5000m and 10,000m, if his body lets him, he said.

Saturday’s Prefontaine will be bittersweet.

“I don’t like to think like that, but it will be, my last,” he said. “It will probably be very emotional knowing that will be my last track racing in the U.S. But you know, tomorrow (I) just can’t be worrying about anything. I just have to concentrate on the race and getting the job done.”

Farah will be part of a stellar field that includes Paul Chelimo, the 5000m silver medalist in Rio, and Kenyan Paul Tanui, the Rio silver medalist in the 10,000m.

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VIDEO: Runner clocks No. 2 time ever … after stopping to fix shoe