Allyson Felix repeated Wednesday that August’s World Championships schedule “doesn’t allow” her to run both the 200m and 400m, six days after her coach reportedly said the 200m-400m double was still a possibility.
Felix also said her coach, Bobby Kersee, would make his final decision on what her schedule will be for the World Championships (Aug. 22-30 in Beijing) after she races a 200m in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Thursday. No woman has swept the 200m and 400m at a Worlds, though it’s been done in both genders at the Olympics.
Felix was also asked Wednesday if Kersee had, in an effort to seek flexibility in the Rio 2016 Olympic track and field schedule approved in November, reached out to the IAAF (track and field’s international governing body), the International Olympic Committee or Michael Johnson (who lobbied for a March 1996 change to the Atlanta 1996 Olympic schedule that increased the time between the men’s 200m and 400m at those Games).
“I haven’t talked to [Kersee] on the specifics of it, but he definitely told me that he would be talking to whoever he needs to talk to, just voicing his opinion,” Felix told media in Lausanne. “Just not only for myself, but the 200m-400m double, to me, is a common double. A lot of 400m runners can the run the 200m as well. Any case moving forward, it would be a great opportunity for a long sprinter to have.”
Felix was also asked if a 200m-400m double attempt at Worlds (where the 200m semifinals and 400m final are about an hour apart) was important so Olympic schedulers could consider athletes who want to attempt the double next year.
“I would love to run the double,” Felix answered. “It’s something that I did before, and I would love to do it again. In my opinion, the schedule just doesn’t allow for it [at Worlds]. To me, it’s really disappointing because there are so many people who can do a 200m-400m double, and I think that we should be allowed to attempt it. So I would hope that, moving forward, that the Olympic schedule would reflect that. But at this World Championships, in my opinion, I don’t see it as being ideal to be able to run optimal in both the 400m and the 200m.”
In 1996, the original Olympic schedule called for the men’s 200m semifinals and 400m final on the same day, as is the case for the women’s races at the World Championships in Beijing next month. Johnson reportedly said then that he would have chosen one individual race if the Atlanta 1996 schedule remained that way.
The March 1996 revised schedule allowed Johnson a full day of rest between the 400m final and the start of the 200m rounds. Johnson, in golden shoes, went on to become the first man to sweep the 200m and 400m at an Olympics.
The women’s 200m-400m double gold has also been done at the Olympics. American Valerie Brisco-Hooks swept them at Los Angeles 1984, and France’s Marie-Jose Perec in 1996.
Brisco-Hooks and Perec, like Johnson, also had one day off between the 400m and 200m in their Olympic schedules.
The Rio 2016 Olympic schedule calls for the women’s 400m final to go off 75 minutes after the start of the first round of the women’s 200m. It’s not as tough as August’s Worlds, but it’s a departure from London 2012, when there was a day off between the 400m and 200m.
In 2012, Felix attempted the 100m-200m double rather than the 200m-400m (one day off between the 100m and 200m) and finished fifth in the 100m and, in her primary goal, won gold in the 200m.
In 2011, the Worlds schedule had two days between the women’s 400m final final and the start of the women’s 200m.
“Going through this will tell me if it’s even going to be a possibility to do the same thing in London [at the 2012 Olympics],” Felix said before the 2011 Worlds, according to The Associated Press.
In 2011, Felix won 400m silver (in a personal-best time, beaten by .03 by Botswana’s Amantle Montsho in her personal best; Montsho is currently serving a doping ban) and 200m bronze.
“You definitely are going to be more fatigued, but I think that’s the challenge of it,” Felix said of the 200m-400m double Wednesday. “That’s a great thing about athletics, to challenge yourself and see what you can accomplish.”