Allyson Felix
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Allyson Felix adapts to tackle tougher Olympic double than Michael Johnson

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NEW YORK — It’s Saturday, Jan. 16, and Allyson Felix hasn’t yet been told that the Olympic track and field schedule has been changed to make her possible 200m-400m double more feasible in Rio.

“We found it just from checking that website,” said Felix’s older brother and agent, Wes, who then notified his sister. “Then I started getting calls [from media].”

The IAAF, track and field’s international governing body, officially announced the schedule change shortly after 6 ET that evening.

Four hours later, a tweet from Felix’s account expressed how grateful she was toward the IAAF, USA Track and Field and the International Olympic Committee for the schedule change.

On Thursday, Felix reiterated that she’s “happy for the opportunity” that came with the schedule change. But both she and her older brother would have preferred an even greater timetable shift.

The change moved the 200m first round from the same evening session as the 400m final to a morning session earlier that day.

On Thursday, Felix cited the more optimal schedule for a 100m-200m double, with a full day off in between events. (The 100m and 200m also had a day in between at London 2012, where Felix ran her personal-best in the 100m and then won her first individual Olympic title in the 200m.)

“I hope that one day [the 200m-400m] will be the same double like the [100m] and the [200m] and able to not overlap,” Felix said ahead of her last indoor meet of the winter season on Saturday at the Millrose Games (NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra, 4-6 p.m. ET). “In some Games, it doesn’t overlap. So I think we were hoping that would be the solution, maybe finish the 400m and then start the 200m, but just happy for the opportunity to go for it, even though it’s going to be very challenging.”

In 1996, the original Olympic track and field schedule called for the men’s 200m semifinals and 400m final on the same day. Michael 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.

“We would’ve preferred for there to be a day in there,” Wes said. “We’re super grateful for the change. It at least gives her a shot to do it. … It’s hard enough for the other people who have done it in the past to pull it off. Their schedule was a little bit more favorable.”

Update: Michael Johnson’s Twitter pointed out that he (as well as Perec) had four rounds each in the 200m and 400m in 1996. Felix would have three rounds each in the 200m and 400m.

Felix was asked last fall for her definition of success at her fourth Olympics in Rio and answered, “winning four gold medals.” The 200m, 400m and the 4x100m and 4x400m relays.

Felix and the U.S. relay teams were beaten by Jamaica in the 4x100m and 4x400m at last August’s World Championships, where Felix’s only individual race was the 400m, which she won to set up a potential Rio double.

“The 200m is my baby,” Felix said. “The 400m, we have a love-hate relationship.”

One female track and field athlete has won four golds at a single Games — the Flying Housewife Fanny Blankers-Koen at London 1948 — and two American women have done it — swimmers Amy Van Dyken-Rouen at Atlanta 1996 and Missy Franklin at London 2012.

“I would never want to leave the sport and not go after everything I wanted,” Felix said last fall, adding Thursday, “I’m 30 years old. If I’m going to do it, it’s going to have to be now.”

Felix doubted that she would attempt a 200m-400m double this year if she hadn’t crossed off her first individual Olympic gold medal in London.

“That 200m gold was something I had wanted for so long, and it was such a rocky, up-and-down road to get there,” she said. “Once I did get it, I was able to say, hey, I want to challenge myself more, not set limits. … I think that did make me more comfortable to go for it.”

But the schedule is not completely comfortable. Felix is focusing more on intense workouts on back-to-back days plus training later in the evenings to ready for the possible Rio gauntlet.

“One of the biggest concerns is that there’s a late-night semifinal [8:35 p.m. Rio time on Aug. 14], early morning 200m round [9:35 a.m. Rio time on Aug. 15], late-night final [10:45 p.m. Rio time on Aug. 15], so being able to kind of simulate that in practice,” Felix said.

She must qualify for the Olympic team in the 200m and 400m at the Olympic trials in July first (there are four days off in between events in Eugene, Ore.), and then decide if she wants to compete in both in Rio.

“I would like to think I haven’t run a perfect race,” Felix said. “I hope my perfect race is yet to come.”

MORE: Felix, Gatlin ushered in new era of U.S. sprints

Jennifer Valente takes silver in world cycling championship scratch race

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Jennifer Valente won the first medal for the U.S. team in the world track cycling championships Wednesday in Berlin, finishing second behind Dutch cyclist Kirsten Wild in the scratch race.

Wild won the mass-start event for the third time, having taken gold in 2015 and 2018, and her seventh world championship in all track cycling disciplines. She also took silver in the 2016 world championship road race.

Valente also joined Chloé Dygert, Emma White and Lily Williams in women’s team pursuit qualifying, posting the fastest time of the day and easily qualifying for the semifinals on Thursday. The U.S. team has been in transition with the retirement of Sarah Hammer and the death of Kelly Catlin, who committed suicide in March. Hammer, Catlin, Dygert and Valente took silver in the 2016 Olympics.

READ: Dygert aims for road and track double in Tokyo

The Netherlands took two of the three gold medals on Wednesday’s program, beating Britain to win the men’s team sprint. Germany beat Australia to win the women’s team sprint.

READ: Track cycling broadcast and streaming schedule

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Tokyo organizers, IOC going ahead as planned with Olympics

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TOKYO (AP) — A spokesman for the Japanese government on Wednesday said the International Olympic Committee and local organizers are going as planned with the Tokyo Olympics.

The comments from spokesman Yoshihide Suga follow the assertion by IOC veteran Dick Pound that organizers face a three-month window to decide the fate of the Games.

READ: Pound cites time needed to ramp up operations

The Olympics are set to open on July 24 with 11,000 athletes. The Paralympics open Aug. 25 with 4,400.

Also Wednesday, Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto abruptly called a news conference to address Pound’s comments.

“Our basic thoughts are that we will go ahead with the Olympic and Paralympic Games as scheduled,” Muto said, speaking in Japanese. “For the time being, the situation of the coronavirus infection is, admittedly, difficult to predict, but we will take measures such that we’ll have a safe Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

Muto added: ““That the end of May is the time limit, we have never thought of this or heard of such a comment. So when we asked about this, we received a response saying that is not the position of the IOC.”

Muto also allowed for the possibility of downsizing the Olympic torch relay but insisted it will not be canceled.

Pound told the Associated Press that the fast-spreading virus could cancel the Olympics. Suga says Pound’s opinion does not reflect the official view of the IOC, which has repeatedly said there are no plans to cancel or postpone the Tokyo Games.

“With regard to this member’s comment, the IOC has responded that this is not their official position, and that IOC is proceeding with preparations toward the games as scheduled,” Suga said, speaking in Japanese at his daily news conference.

Pound is a former IOC vice-president and a member since 1978, and was the founding president of the World Anti-Doping Agency.

He also represented Canada as a swimmer at the Olympics.

In a telephone interview from Montreal, Pound said the IOC has a three-month window to decide, and suggested other options like moving events of postponing seemed less likely.

“In and around that time,” he said, “I’d say folks are going to have to ask: ‘Is this under sufficient control that we can be confident about going to Tokyo or now?”‘

If the IOC decides the games cannot go forward as scheduled in Tokyo, “you’re probably looking at a cancellation,” said Pound, who added that he was not commenting on behalf of the IOC.

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