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

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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

Katie Ledecky out-touches new rival at swimming’s U.S. Open, extends streak

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It was a rare sight: Katie Ledecky being matched stroke for stroke in a distance race in an American pool. She was up for the challenge.

Ledecky out-touched emerging 16-year-old Canadian Summer McIntosh by eight hundredths of a second in the 400m freestyle at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C., on Thursday night.

Ledecky and McIntosh were tied at the 300-meter mark. Ledecky ended up clocking 3:59.71 to McIntosh’s 3:59.79 to extend a decade-long win streak in freestyle races of 400 meters or longer in U.S. pools.

“I know we’ll have a lot more races ahead of us,” Ledecky said on Peacock. “We bring the best out of each other.”

The U.S. Open continues Friday with live finals coverage on Peacock at 6 p.m. ET.

U.S. OPEN SWIMMING: Full Results

At the Tokyo Olympics, McIntosh placed fourth in the 400m free at age 14.

She accelerated this year, taking silver behind Ledecky at the world championships and silver behind Tokyo gold medalist Ariarne Titmus of Australia at the Commonwealth Games.

Then in October, McIntosh outdueled Ledecky in a 400m free — also by eight hundredths — in a short-course, 25-meter pool at a FINA World Cup meet in Toronto. Long-course meets like the Olympics and the U.S. Open are held in 50-meter pools.

McIntosh also won world titles in the 200m butterfly and 400m individual medley, becoming the youngest individual world champion since 2011.

A potential showdown among Ledecky, Titmus and McIntosh at the 2024 Paris Games is already being compared to the “Race of the Century,” the 2004 Olympic men’s 200m free where Australian Ian Thorpe edged Dutchman Pieter van den Hoogenband and Michael Phelps.

In other events Thursday, Regan Smith, an Olympic and world medalist in the backstroke and butterfly, won a 200m individual medley in a personal best 2:10.40, a time that would have placed fifth at June’s world championships. She beat 16-year-old Leah Hayes, who took bronze in the event at worlds.

Olympic 400m IM champ Chase Kalisz won the men’s 200m IM in 1:56.52, his best time ever outside of major summer meets. Frenchman Léon Marchand won the world title in 1:55.22 in June, when Kalisz was fourth.

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Eliud Kipchoge, two races shy of his target, to make Boston Marathon debut

Eliud Kipchoge Berlin Marathon
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World record holder Eliud Kipchoge will race the Boston Marathon for the first time on April 17.

Kipchoge, who at September’s Berlin Marathon lowered his world record by 30 seconds to 2:01:09, has won four of the six annual major marathons — Berlin, Tokyo, London and Chicago.

The 38-year-old Kenyan has never raced Boston, the world’s oldest annual marathon dating to 1897, nor New York City but has repeated in recent years a desire to enter both of them.

Typically, he has run the London Marathon in the spring and the Berlin Marathon in the fall.

Kipchoge’s last race in the U.S. was the 2014 Chicago Marathon, his second of 10 consecutive marathon victories from 2014 through 2019.

He can become the first reigning men’s marathon world record holder to finish the Boston Marathon since South Korean Suh Yun-Bok set a world record of 2:25:39 in Boston in 1947, according to the Boston Athletic Association.

In 2024 in Paris, Kipchoge is expected to race the Olympic marathon and bid to become the first person to win three gold medals in that event.

The Boston Marathon field also includes arguably the second- and third-best men in the world right now — Kipchoge’s Kenyan training partners Evans Chebet and Benson Kipruto. Chebet won Boston and New York City this year. Kipruto won Boston last year and Chicago this year.

American Des Linden, who won Boston in 2018, headlines the women’s field.

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