Allyson Felix, slowed by injury, finishes .01 shy of chasing Olympic goal set in 2005

Leave a comment

EUGENE, Ore. — Allyson Felix leaned forward while sitting on a folding chair under a tent, about 40 feet from the Hayward Field finish line, shielded from the drizzle. Her brother, Wes, sat to her right.

“I was right there,” she told him.

This was several minutes after Felix’s fourth-place result in the 200m at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Slowed by a serious ankle injury, she missed the Rio team in the event by one hundredth of a second and a chance at a 200m-400m double at the Olympics.

It’s the first time she failed to qualify for an Olympic or world championships team in the 200m since she was 15 years old in 2001.

“This whole year, that had been what I was working for, so for it to end here is disappointing,” said Felix, who clocked 22.54 seconds and has a personal best of 21.69. “Then when I look back, and I see everything that happened, I still think it’s quite amazing.”

An injured Felix previously made the Olympic team by winning the 400m in the fastest time in the world for the year seven days earlier. She will go to Rio and presumably compete in two events, the 400m and the 4x400m relay.

But she won’t get a chance to defend her Olympic 200m title, and maybe not be part of the 4x100m relay.

Since 2005, The Felixes have discussed a goal of wanting to win four gold medals at these specific Olympics.

“It’s going to hurt, and not just today or tomorrow, because you’re not going to get that back,” Wes said as his sister spoke to media about 20 minutes after the race.

Felix partially tore multiple right ankle ligaments when she landed on a medicine ball in an April 17 workout. That injury affected her 200m more than her 400m at Trials, though she expects one more month of healing will be an immense help for Rio.

“Her power was just not there,” said Wes, the 2002 World Junior Championships 200m bronze medalist (a race won by a 15-year-old Usain Bolt). “She was giving up three steps out of the blocks.”

Felix, after that slow start, made it back to fourth place coming around the curve, behind Tori BowieJenna Prandini and Deajah Stevens.

In the final strides, Felix uncharacteristically grimaced as she tried to close the gap on Prandini for third place and the last spot on the Olympic team (video here).

Felix’s right shoe crossed the finish before any part of Prandini’s body, but as everyone learned at the 2012 Olympic Trials, it’s the chest that stops the clock.

Prandini leaned too early and actually fell toward the line, putting her chest out but losing considerable momentum.

Allyson Felix

Felix ran through the line, then came to a stop around the curve. She doubled over, hands on knees, breathing heavily, staring at the south scoreboard.

“I wasn’t sure,” who got third, Felix said. “I just knew I gave all I had and leaned at the line. It just wasn’t there.”

For a 22-second race, the wait lasted nearly 20 seconds for the third-place result to flash on the screen.

The top half of the scoreboard showed Felix’s face. The bottom half showed the first two finishers’ names. Then the third came up. Prandini, in 22.53 seconds.

Felix showed little reaction, rising up and congratulating the others. Wes waited for her just off the track and accompanied her to the tent.

There were no tears. Just more heavy breathing, staring toward the track and exchanging short sentences with the brother who carried her off the track at the 2013 World Championships, when she tore a right hamstring in the 200m final.

There’s nothing to hang your head about, Wes told her.

“Just look at what life looked like 10 weeks ago,” he said later, “sitting in doctors’ offices and not knowing if she would run at all.”

Wes thought back to 2005, when Felix won the first of three straight world titles in the 200m. It was that year that they decided on the goal of four gold medals at one Olympics.

Even if Felix made the 200m team Sunday, she likely would have entered Rio an underdog in her trademark event. At the world championships last August, the Netherlands’ Dafne Schippers and Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson ran faster than Felix’s personal best in the 200m.

Last October, Michael Johnson, the last man to sweep the 200m and 400m at an Olympics (two women have done it), urged Felix to double in Rio at a USA Track and Field Hall of Fame induction.

In January, the IAAF amended the Rio track and field schedule at the petition of Felix’s coach, Bob Kersee, to give her more time between the 200m and 400m in Rio.

“She’s been training for this moment since she was 17,” Wes said. “You know you’re not 100 percent, and a hundredth away is heartbreaking.”

A few days before the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, Felix was passed a phone and asked by an American reporter about the Rio Olympics.

Felix expressed then, three years out, that she wanted to race multiple individual events for a second straight Olympics. But instead of the 100m-200m double that brought her a personal best and gold medal in London, Felix wanted to tackle the 200m-400m in Rio.

“I still have potential in it, unexplored potential,” said Felix, conjuring the 2011 World Championships, where she set a 400m personal best and lost by .03 to Botswana’s Amantle Montsho, who failed a drug test in 2014 and is banned through the Rio Games.

“I just feel like I haven’t come anywhere close in the 400m. I haven’t given it a true try.”

At least Felix still has that opportunity in Rio.

MORE: How Bernard Lagat became oldest U.S. Olympic runner ever

Great Britain gets first win at men’s ice hockey worlds in 57 years

AP
Leave a comment

Lord Stanley would be proud. Great Britain’s men’s ice hockey team pulled off its biggest win in more than a half-century on Monday.

Great Britain beat France 4-3 in overtime at the world championship in Slovakia, in its last game of the tournament, to avoid relegation and remain in the top division of worlds in 2020 with the likes of the U.S., Canada and Russia.

France, whose streak of 12 straight top-level world championship appearances ends, had led 3-0 in the second period.

“We just don’t know when we are beaten,” golden-goal scorer Ben Davies said, according to Ice Hockey U.K. “This just underlines what GB is all about.”

It marked the Brits’ first win at a top-level worlds or Olympics since 1962. Great Britain last qualified for an Olympics in 1948. Its only top-level world championship appearance since 1962 was in 1994, when it lost all five games by a combined 44-7.

At these worlds, Great Britain was outscored 38-5 in its first six games, all losses. It came into the 16-nation event as the lowest-ranked team at No. 22 in the world.

“No one knows anything about U.K. hockey, and the first couple of days here people were laughing at us,” defenseman Ben O’Connor said, according to The New York Times, which reported that fans dressed as Queen Elizabeth II, Mary Poppins, Beefeaters, cricket bats and the Olympic ski jumper Eddie “the Eagle” Edwards to the Brits’ 6-3 loss to the U.S. last Wednesday.

(h/t @OlympicStatman)

MORE: Female hockey stars boycott pro leagues

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Caster Semenya enters Pre Classic in new event after testosterone ruling

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Caster Semenya is entered in the Pre Classic on June 30 to run the women’s 3000m, an event that does not fall under the IAAF’s new testosterone limits.

It’s the first announced meet for Semenya since the new IAAF rule capping testosterone in women’s events between the 400m and the mile went into effect. The Court of Arbitration for Sport denied her appeal and upheld the rule on May 1.

Semenya, the two-time Olympic 800m champion, has raced almost exclusively the 400m, 800m and 1500m up until this season.

She won an 800m on May 3 in the last top-level meet before the testosterone cap went into effect for those distances.

At that May 3 meet in Doha, Semenya reportedly said “hell no” when asked if she would take testosterone-suppressing measures to stay eligible for the 400m, 800m or 1500m at the world championships this fall.

Semenya also said she would keep competing but would not race the 5000m, the shortest flat event on the Olympic program that she could move up to without a testosterone cap, according to those same reports.

The flat 3000m is not on the Olympic program (though the 3000m steeplechase is).

South Africa’s track and field federation has indicated it will appeal the CAS ruling.

“I keep training. I keep running,” Semenya said May 3. “Doesn’t matter if something comes in front of me, like I said. I always find a way.”

The Pre Classic women’s 3000m also includes distance titans Almaz Ayana (Olympic 10,000m champion who last raced in 2017), Hellen Obiri (world 5000m champion), Genzebe Dibaba (1500m world-record holder) and Sifan Hassan (world bronze medalist at 1500m and 5000m).

The Pre Classic will be held at Stanford, Calif., this year due to construction at Oregon’s Hayward Field ahead of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials.

VIDEO: Noah Lyles edges Christian Coleman in photo finish

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!