Allyson Felix adapts to tackle tougher Olympic double than Michael Johnson

Allyson Felix
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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

Eliud Kipchoge breaks marathon world record in Berlin

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge broke his own world record in winning the Berlin Marathon, clocking 2:01:09 to lower the previous record time of 2:01:39 he set in the German capital in 2018.

Kipchoge, 37 and a two-time Olympic champion, earned his 15th win in 17 career marathons to bolster his claim as the greatest runner in history over 26.2 miles.

His pacing was not ideal. Kipchoge slowed in the final miles, running 61:18 for the second half after going out in an unprecedented 59:51 for the first 13.1 miles. He still won by 4:49 over Kenyan Mark Korir.

“I was planning to go through it [the halfway mark] 60:50, 60:40,” Kipchoge said. “My legs were running actually very fast. I thought, let me just try to run two hours flat, but all in all, I am happy with the performance.

“We went too fast [in the first half]. It takes energy from the muscles. … There’s still more in my legs [to possibly lower the record again].”

MORE: Berlin Marathon Results

Ethiopian Tigist Assefa won the women’s race in 2:15:37, the third-fastest time in history for somebody who ran one prior marathon in 2:34:01. Only Brigid Kosgei (2:14:14 in Chicago in 2019) and Paula Radcliffe (2:15:25 in London in 2003) have gone faster.

American record holder Keira D’Amato, who entered as the top seed, was sixth in 2:21:48. D’Amato, who went nearly a decade between competitive races after college, owns the American record of 2:19:12 and now also the 10th-best time in U.S. history.

“Today wasn’t my best day ever, but it was the best I could do today,” she said in a text message, according to Race Results Weekly, adding that she briefly stopped and walked late in the race.

The last eight instances the men’s marathon world record has been broken, it has come on the pancake-flat roads of Berlin. It began in 2003, when Kenyan Paul Tergat became the first man to break 2:05.

The world record was 2:02:57 — set by Kenyan Dennis Kimetto in 2014 — until Kipchoge broke it for the first time four years ago.

The following year, Kipchoge became the first person to cover 26.2 miles in under two hours, clocking 1:59:40 in a non-record-eligible showcase rather than a race.

Kipchoge’s focus going forward is trying to become the first runner to win three Olympic marathon titles in Paris in 2024. He also wants to win all six annual World Marathon Majors. He’s checked off four of them, only missing Boston (run in April) and New York City (run every November).

Kipchoge grew up on a farm in Kapsabet in Kenya’s Rift Valley, often hauling by bike several gallons of the family’s milk to sell at the local market. Raised by a nursery school teacher, he ran more than three miles to and from school. He saved for five months to get his first pair of running shoes.

At 18, he upset legends Hicham El Guerrouj and Kenenisa Bekele to win the 2003 World 5000m title on the track. He won Olympic 5000m medals (bronze in 2004 and silver in 2008), then moved to the marathon after failing to make the 2012 Olympic team on the track.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup schedule, results

FIBA Women's World Cup
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The U.S. goes for its fourth consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup in Sydney — and eighth global gold in a row overall when including the Olympics.

A’ja Wilson, a two-time WNBA MVP, and Breanna Stewart, the Tokyo Olympic MVP, headline a U.S. roster that, for the first time since 2000, includes neither Sue Bird (retired) nor Diana Taurasi (injured).

The new-look team includes nobody over the age of 30 for the first time since 1994, before the U.S. began its dynasty at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The Americans have won 52 consecutive games between worlds and the Olympics dating to the 2006 Worlds bronze-medal game.

The field also includes host Australia, the U.S.’ former primary rival, and Olympic silver medalist Japan.

Nigeria, which played the U.S. the closest of any foe in Tokyo (losing by nine points), isn’t present after its federation withdrew the team over governance issues. Spain, ranked second in the world, failed to qualify.

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2022 FIBA Women’s World Cup Schedule

Date Time (ET) Game Round
Wed., Sept. 21 8:30 p.m. Puerto Rico 82, Bosnia and Herzegovina 58 Group A
9:30 p.m. USA 87, Belgium 72 Group A
11 p.m. Canada 67, Serbia 60 Group B
Thurs., Sept. 22 12 a.m. Japan 89, Mali 56 Group B
3:30 a.m. China 107, South Korea 44 Group A
6:30 a.m. France 70, Australia 57 Group B
8:30 p.m. USA 106, Puerto Rico 42 Group A
10 p.m. Serbia 69, Japan 64 Group B
11 p.m. Belgium 84, South Korea 61 Group A
Fri., Sept. 23 12:30 a.m. China 98, Bosnia and Herzegovina 51 Group A
4 a.m. Canada 59, France 45 Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia 118, Mali 58 Group B
Sat., Sept. 24 12:30 a.m. USA 77, China 63 Group A
4 a.m. South Korea 99, Bosnia and Herzegovina 66 Group A
6:30 a.m. Belgium 68, Puerto Rico 65 Group A
Sun., Sept. 25 12:30 a.m. France 74, Mali 59 Group B
4 a.m. Australia 69, Serbia 54 Group B
6:30 a.m. Canada 70, Japan 56 Group B
9:30 p.m. Belgium vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
11:30 p.m. Mali vs. Serbia Group B
Mon., Sept. 26 12 a.m. USA vs. South Korea Group A
2 a.m. France vs. Japan Group B
3:30 a.m. China vs. Puerto Rico Group A
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Canada Group B
9:30 p.m. Puerto Rico vs. South Korea Group A
11:30 p.m. Belgium vs. China Group A
Tues., Sept. 27 12 a.m. USA vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina Group A
2 a.m. Canada vs. Mali Group B
3:30 a.m. France vs. Serbia Group B
6:30 a.m. Australia vs. Japan Group B
Wed., Sept. 28 10 p.m. Quarterfinal
Thurs., Sept. 29 12:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
4 a.m. Quarterfinal
6:30 a.m. Quarterfinal
Fri., Sept. 30 3 .m. Semifinal
5:30 a.m. Semifinal
11 p.m. Third-Place Game
Sat., Oct. 1 2 a.m. Final