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Allyson Felix on skipping the double, traveling for LA 2024

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NEW YORK — Aside from her usual meet schedule, Allyson Felix hopes to make a large impact on her sport and the Olympic Movement with appearances around the world this summer.

It began here this week, when the nine-time Olympic medalist promoted the TrackTown Summer Series, a domestic tour of meets that culminated at Icahn Stadium at Randall’s Island on Thursday night. She didn’t compete, but she was captain of the New York team.

Felix left New York for London, where she plans to race Sunday for the last time before the world championships (also in London) next month.

From London, Felix heads to Lausanne, Switzerland, as part of LA 2024’s presentation team to the International Olympic Committee. The IOC could next week ratify a proposal to award both the 2024 and 2028 Olympics this summer, with one going to LA and the other Paris. Both cities prefer 2024, though.

If the Olympic bid process continues to a planned IOC vote in September, Felix will travel to the IOC session in Lima, Peru with the LA 2024 team.

On the track, Felix chose not to attempt a 200m-400m double at the world championships this year. She explained why and touched on other topics in a conversation Thursday.

OlympicTalk: What’s the single most interesting thing about the TrackTown Summer Series for casual track fans?

Felix: The team concept. It just makes it fun to follow. I think a lot of times, when you tune into track, and you’re not sure who to root for and all that stuff, this kind of brings it back to almost that college feel. You automatically are drawn to a team that you can follow. And also for the athletes to feel a part of that [NCAA feeling] again.

OlympicTalk: You pulled out of the 200m at the USATF Outdoor Championships, so your only individual world championships race will be the 400m. Why did you decide not to attempt the 200m-400m double this year, especially given how much it meant to you in 2016?

Felix: Just coming off of the kind of year that I had last year [severe ankle injury in the spring, missing the Olympic 200m team by .01], just physically and emotionally, it was just draining. I think the idea was to take our time this year and gradually get up to speed and to be able to focus in. Coming off of something that major and wanting to run for a little bit longer [in your career], you kind of have to be smart with the amount of intensity and the [number of] times of the year that we [race]. Just taking a more gradual approach this year.

OlympicTalk: Was your lead-up to this season affected at all by the ankle or anything health related?

Felix: I think there’s always residual effects, especially with ankle injuries. That was really slow healing. We kind of wanted to keep that in mind. I wouldn’t say it was affected too much. It was a different approach. I think I started moving around at the same time [as most seasons], but it was definitely a much slower build-up.

OlympicTalk: Somebody who is doubling at worlds is Wayde van Niekerk, with the 400m coming before the 200m. If you were doubling and in a situation where you were going to win the 400m, with a chance at a record time in the final, would you go all out or save something for the 200m?

Felix: You go for it, because I think the amount that you would save would be so little in the 400m that no matter how fast or slow, it’s so taxing. Also, how often do you have a chance to be that close to a record? I think you go for it and that adrenaline and anything else carries you through the 200m.

OlympicTalk: Next year is a non-championship year. Is there anything you would like to focus on, or maybe even take a break in 2018?

Felix: I haven’t really given it too much thought. It’s really getting through this year, and then I’ll kind of think about next year. It has been a very long time that I’ve been doing this and haven’t had a break at all. I’ll probably try to have some fun and figure it out after the season.

OlympicTalk: Do you want to run the 4x100m at world championships?

Felix: I would love to run the 4x100m if they need me. It’s the position I’ve always been is that I’m open if they need me. If not, I’m happy to focus on the 400m and 4x400m.

OlympicTalk: Do you consider yourself a 400m runner now?

Felix: I don’t know if I ever will. I guess I should. That’s what I’m running. I prefer the term “sprinter.”

OlympicTalk: It’s far out, but do you want to double in 2019 if everything is ideal?

Felix: I haven’t even thought of that. Long-term, I would love to do one more Olympics, but the breakdown of it and leading up into it, it’s kind of seeing what’s happening that year and how I’m feeling.

OlympicTalk: You were at Usain Bolt’s last home meet in Jamaica. What was that like?

Felix: I don’t think I’ve been in the stadium there where it was that full and everyone was that excited since [2002] World Juniors. It was amazing just to see the love for track and field and the love for him and what he’s done for the sport.

OlympicTalk: Was the excitement comparable to any other meet you’ve been to?

Felix: It has the kind of feel of a Penn Relays atmosphere, where it’s just fun. Everyone wasn’t so much concerned with performance, but let’s just go out and salute this great champion.

OlympicTalk: Did it make you think about how you want to go about your final meet(s)?

Felix: Not so much in the fashion, but it really made me think about it’s so much more than just trying to run fast times and win medals. You get to talk to people who you’ve actually had an impact on their life. As athletes, we get wrapped up in performances and statistics and all these things. You forget that this little girl runs track because of you, or this young man came out to the sport, and it’s made an impact on his life. Those are the things that I got to really pick up on with that meet.

OlympicTalk: Why is that so important for you to be at the IOC vote in Lima, and what message do you want to send to IOC members, assuming they’ll be voting between Los Angeles and Paris?

Felix: Being an LA native, it’s really important for me to see the Olympics back in LA. Just the impact that I know it can have on the city and also that the city can have the Olympics. It would be so, so special. I think it’s time. I think LA is ready.

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Michael Phelps still has ‘no desire’ to come back

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Michael Phelps says he has “no desire” to return to competitive swimming, but he is eager to stay involved with the sport and cheer on those who follow in his enormous wake.

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press while promoting a healthy pet food campaign, Phelps said he is excited about the birth of his second child and numerous opportunities away from the pool.

It was around this time four years ago when Phelps got serious about ending his first retirement, but he now seems content with his decision to step away again after the Rio Olympics.

His wife, Nicole, is about four months pregnant. The couple already has a 16-month-old son, Boomer.

“I’ve got no desire, no desire to come back,” the 32-year-old Phelps said flatly.

Phelps has attended a handful of swimming meets since the Rio Games, where the winningest athlete in Olympic history added to his already massive career haul by claiming five gold medals plus a silver. A few months ago, he conceded to the AP that he was eager to see how he would feel about a possible comeback after this year’s world championships in Budapest, Hungary.

Turns out, it had no impact.

Phelps said watching others compete “truly didn’t kick anything off or spike any more interest in coming out of retirement again.”

He is eager to follow the development of his heir apparent, Caeleb Dressel, who emerged as the sport’s newest star by winning seven gold medals at Budapest. The 21-year-old Floridian joined Phelps and Mark Spitz as the only swimmers to accomplish that feat at a major international meet.

“I’m happy Caeleb decided to go off this year instead of last year,” Phelps joked. “I’m kind of happy to see him swimming so well when I’m not there.”

With Dressel and Katie Ledecky now leading the American team, the U.S. is expected to remain the world’s dominant swimming country heading into the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Even without Phelps.

“It’s time to kind of move on,” he said, “and watch other people come into their own.”

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Dutch cyclist returns from horrific Rio crash to win world title

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Dutch road cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten came back from this dramatic Rio Olympic crash to win her first world title on Tuesday, taking the time trial in Bergen, Norway.

“This one is really beautiful without the crash in Rio, but this makes the story really, really special,” an emotional van Vleuten said. “Actually, I still cannot believe it. … This season I’m surprising myself what I can do. To be world champion in the time trial, I never thought I’d be able of this.”

Van Vleuten, 34, covered the 13-mile course in 28 minutes, 50.35 seconds, topping countrywoman Anna ven der Breggen by 12 seconds.

Australian Katrin Garfoot took bronze, 19.02 seconds ahead of Chloe Dygert, a U.S. Olympic silver medalist in track cycling. American Amber Neben, the defending champion, was 11th.

Full results are here.

In Rio, van Vleuten suffered three small spine fractures and a concussion when her brakes appeared to lock, and she flipped over into a ditch during the road race. Van Vleuten was alone in the lead at the time with about seven miles to go of the 87-mile course.

She was eventually hospitalized in intensive care.

Van der Breggen went on to win the Olympic title.

Van Vleuten wasn’t out long. She raced at last October’s world championships, placing a career-high fifth in the time trial. She then won La Course in France, a two-day race, in July.

“To be an athlete is to have really ups and downs,” van Vleuten said Tuesday. “Sometimes really downs, but the downs make the ups even more beautiful, I think.”

Van Vleuten’s first celebratory act Tuesday was to climb past two barriers and into her mother’s arms.

“Last year my mum watched the Rio race on television, it was her birthday and she was with lots of my family, so it was a really hard day for her,” Van Vleuten said in a news conference, according to Cyclingnews.com. “My father died in 2008, and so it was really special to have her here and celebrate the good things of cycling together. We’ve dealt with bad things together in the past, so it’s important to be really happy and proud to celebrate and to also remember my father.”

The world championships continue Wednesday with the men’s time trial at 7 a.m. ET on the Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on NBCSports.com/live.

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