Allyson Felix on skipping the double, traveling for LA 2024

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NEW YORK — Aside from her usual meet schedule, Allyson Felix hopes to make a large impact on her sport and the Olympic Movement with appearances around the world this summer.

It began here this week, when the nine-time Olympic medalist promoted the TrackTown Summer Series, a domestic tour of meets that culminated at Icahn Stadium at Randall’s Island on Thursday night. She didn’t compete, but she was captain of the New York team.

Felix left New York for London, where she plans to race Sunday for the last time before the world championships (also in London) next month.

From London, Felix heads to Lausanne, Switzerland, as part of LA 2024’s presentation team to the International Olympic Committee. The IOC could next week ratify a proposal to award both the 2024 and 2028 Olympics this summer, with one going to LA and the other Paris. Both cities prefer 2024, though.

If the Olympic bid process continues to a planned IOC vote in September, Felix will travel to the IOC session in Lima, Peru with the LA 2024 team.

On the track, Felix chose not to attempt a 200m-400m double at the world championships this year. She explained why and touched on other topics in a conversation Thursday.

OlympicTalk: What’s the single most interesting thing about the TrackTown Summer Series for casual track fans?

Felix: The team concept. It just makes it fun to follow. I think a lot of times, when you tune into track, and you’re not sure who to root for and all that stuff, this kind of brings it back to almost that college feel. You automatically are drawn to a team that you can follow. And also for the athletes to feel a part of that [NCAA feeling] again.

OlympicTalk: You pulled out of the 200m at the USATF Outdoor Championships, so your only individual world championships race will be the 400m. Why did you decide not to attempt the 200m-400m double this year, especially given how much it meant to you in 2016?

Felix: Just coming off of the kind of year that I had last year [severe ankle injury in the spring, missing the Olympic 200m team by .01], just physically and emotionally, it was just draining. I think the idea was to take our time this year and gradually get up to speed and to be able to focus in. Coming off of something that major and wanting to run for a little bit longer [in your career], you kind of have to be smart with the amount of intensity and the [number of] times of the year that we [race]. Just taking a more gradual approach this year.

OlympicTalk: Was your lead-up to this season affected at all by the ankle or anything health related?

Felix: I think there’s always residual effects, especially with ankle injuries. That was really slow healing. We kind of wanted to keep that in mind. I wouldn’t say it was affected too much. It was a different approach. I think I started moving around at the same time [as most seasons], but it was definitely a much slower build-up.

OlympicTalk: Somebody who is doubling at worlds is Wayde van Niekerk, with the 400m coming before the 200m. If you were doubling and in a situation where you were going to win the 400m, with a chance at a record time in the final, would you go all out or save something for the 200m?

Felix: You go for it, because I think the amount that you would save would be so little in the 400m that no matter how fast or slow, it’s so taxing. Also, how often do you have a chance to be that close to a record? I think you go for it and that adrenaline and anything else carries you through the 200m.

OlympicTalk: Next year is a non-championship year. Is there anything you would like to focus on, or maybe even take a break in 2018?

Felix: I haven’t really given it too much thought. It’s really getting through this year, and then I’ll kind of think about next year. It has been a very long time that I’ve been doing this and haven’t had a break at all. I’ll probably try to have some fun and figure it out after the season.

OlympicTalk: Do you want to run the 4x100m at world championships?

Felix: I would love to run the 4x100m if they need me. It’s the position I’ve always been is that I’m open if they need me. If not, I’m happy to focus on the 400m and 4x400m.

OlympicTalk: Do you consider yourself a 400m runner now?

Felix: I don’t know if I ever will. I guess I should. That’s what I’m running. I prefer the term “sprinter.”

OlympicTalk: It’s far out, but do you want to double in 2019 if everything is ideal?

Felix: I haven’t even thought of that. Long-term, I would love to do one more Olympics, but the breakdown of it and leading up into it, it’s kind of seeing what’s happening that year and how I’m feeling.

OlympicTalk: You were at Usain Bolt’s last home meet in Jamaica. What was that like?

Felix: I don’t think I’ve been in the stadium there where it was that full and everyone was that excited since [2002] World Juniors. It was amazing just to see the love for track and field and the love for him and what he’s done for the sport.

OlympicTalk: Was the excitement comparable to any other meet you’ve been to?

Felix: It has the kind of feel of a Penn Relays atmosphere, where it’s just fun. Everyone wasn’t so much concerned with performance, but let’s just go out and salute this great champion.

OlympicTalk: Did it make you think about how you want to go about your final meet(s)?

Felix: Not so much in the fashion, but it really made me think about it’s so much more than just trying to run fast times and win medals. You get to talk to people who you’ve actually had an impact on their life. As athletes, we get wrapped up in performances and statistics and all these things. You forget that this little girl runs track because of you, or this young man came out to the sport, and it’s made an impact on his life. Those are the things that I got to really pick up on with that meet.

OlympicTalk: Why is that so important for you to be at the IOC vote in Lima, and what message do you want to send to IOC members, assuming they’ll be voting between Los Angeles and Paris?

Felix: Being an LA native, it’s really important for me to see the Olympics back in LA. Just the impact that I know it can have on the city and also that the city can have the Olympics. It would be so, so special. I think it’s time. I think LA is ready.

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Mo Farah likely to retire this year

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British track legend Mo Farah will likely retire by the end of this year.

“I’m not going to go to the Olympics, and I think 2023 will probably be my last year,” the 39-year-old Farah said, according to multiple British media reports.

Farah, who swept the 5000m and 10,000m golds at the Olympics in 2012 and 2016, was announced Tuesday as part of the field for the London Marathon on April 23.

Last May, Farah reportedly said he believed his career on the track was over, but not the roads.

London might not be his last marathon. Farah also said that if, toward the end of this year, he was capable of being picked to run for Britain again, he would “never turn that down,” according to Tuesday’s reports.

It’s not clear if Farah was referencing the world track and field championships, which include a marathon and are in Budapest in August. Or selection for the 2024 British Olympic marathon team.

The fastest British male marathoner last year ran 2:10:46, ranking outside the top 300 in the world. Farah broke 2:10 in all five marathons that he’s finished, but he hasn’t run one since October 2019 (aside from pacing the 2020 London Marathon).

Farah withdrew four days before the last London Marathon on Oct. 2, citing a right hip injury.

Farah switched from the track to the marathon after the 2017 World Championships and won the 2018 Chicago Marathon in a then-European record time of 2:05:11. Belgium’s Bashir Abdi now holds the record at 2:03:36.

Farah’s best London Marathon finish in four starts was third place in 2018.

Farah returned to the track in a failed bid to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, then shifted back to the roads.

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Kendall Gretsch wins six gold medals at Para Nordic Ski Worlds

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Kendall Gretsch, who won Paralympic titles at the last Summer and Winter Games, added another six gold medals at the World Para Nordic Skiing Championships in Sweden last week.

Gretsch, 30, earned seven total medals in seven days between biathlon and cross-country skiing.

Gretsch won gold medals in three different sports across the last three Paralympics: biathlon and cross-country skiing in 2018 (two years after taking up the sports), triathlon in 2021 and biathlon in 2022.

She plans to shift her focus back to triathlon after this winter for 2024 Paris Games qualification.

Gretsch, born with spina bifida, was the 2014 USA Triathlon Female Para Triathlete of the Year. Though triathlon was added to the Paralympics for the 2016 Rio Games, her classification was not added until Tokyo.

Also at last week’s worlds, six-time Paralympian Aaron Pike earned his first Paralympic or world championships gold medal in his decade-plus career, winning a 12.5km biathlon event.

Oksana Masters, who won seven medals in seven events at last year’s Paralympics to break the career U.S. Winter Paralympics medals record, missed worlds due to hand surgery.

The U.S. also picked up five medals at last week’s World Para Alpine Skiing Championships in Spain — three silvers for five-time Paralympian Laurie Stephens and two bronzes for 17-year-old Saylor O’Brien.

Stephens now has 18 career medals from world championships, plus seven at the Paralympics.

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