Allyson Felix qualifies for fifth Olympic team – this time as a mother

0 Comments

Allyson Felix had already secured a spot on her fifth Olympic team simply by qualifying into the women’s 400m final.

But being a member of the relay team was not enough for one of the sport’s most decorated athletes, so on Sunday night Felix finished in the top three to guarantee entry into the individual 400m event in Tokyo.

She turned up the speed in the final few meters of the race to pass Kendall Ellis and Wadeline Jonathas and finish second, in 50.02 seconds, to winner Quanera Hayes, who earned her Olympic debut in 49.78 seconds at 29 years old. Jonathas, 23, will join them in the individual event, with Ellis, Kaylin WhitneyLynna IrbyTaylor Manson and Shae Anderson being named to the event for the relay pool.

Felix was the only finalist with Olympic experience — and she has promised this will be her last.

“Man, it has been a fight to get here, and one thing I know how to do is fight, so I just did that all the way home,” Felix told NBC reporter Lewis Johnson.

A nine-time Olympic medalist, Felix is the most decorated woman in the sport’s history and with just one more medal this summer she would also tie Carl Lewis for the most decorated U.S. Olympic track and field athlete.

She now has the potential to race in the 400m, 4x400m relay and mixed 4x400m relay, which makes its Olympic debut this year. Felix is also planning to race the 200m later this week at Olympic Trials in hopes of creating options for herself; the Tokyo schedule only allows runners to compete either the 200m or the 400m.

TRACK AND FIELD TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | Men’s Preview | Women’s Preview

Felix has been racing at U.S. Olympic Track and Field Trials since she was 18 years old, but this year’s has proven to be her most fun.

“It’s probably the most I’ve taken everything in and savored it, and kind of just looked around, so in that respect, for sure,” she said following Saturday’s semifinal.

Also taking in their surroundings are her husband Kenneth Ferguson and 2-year-old daughter Cammy from the Hayward Field standings.

Felix committed to a fifth Olympic campaign in part to show her daughter that anything is possible.

“I just wanted to really show her, no matter what, that you do things with character, integrity and you don’t give up,” Felix said. “No matter the outcome, I wanted to stay consistent with that. Having her as motivation these past few years has just given me a whole new drive.”

VIDEO: Allyson Felix pens powerful letter to her daughter

She had an emergency C-section while only 32 weeks pregnant in November 2018; Cammy weighed 3 pounds, 7 ounces, and spent the first few weeks of her life in the NICU.

The birth was life-threatening to Felix herself, who has since returned to being one of the nation’s fastest women, and hopes to be fastest in the world in a month’s time.

“Today I thought about all the things,” Felix told Johnson while lying on the track post-race with Cammy. “I thought about us fighting in the NICU, fighting for my life, fighting to get on this track.”

Felix introduced Cammy to Hayes’ son Demetrius who was born in October 2018, as they celebrated on the track.

“I’m in disbelief,” Hayes said. “To know he was here cheering for me and to know exactly where they were sitting made me go even harder.”

Hayes was sure to thank Felix immediately after the race.

“I just told her that I was grateful for all that she’s done for mothers, and her paving the way for me as an athlete with all that she’s done for the sport,” Hayes said. “Then I was like, ‘Are you sure this is your last go-round? She said yes, and I was like, ‘No, no!’ I was just honestly telling her thank you because I’ve looked up to Allyson for a very long time, and to be there with her and to go through this with her as a mom, it makes it even more special to be there with her.”

Another reason Felix committed to returning to the Olympic stage was her finish in Rio. Felix took silver behind Bahama’s Shaunae Miller-Uibo, who dove for the gold at the line.

After winning 200m gold in London, after 200m silvers at the previous two Games, Felix is hungry for another individual gold.

She will join a list of just 15 U.S. women who have competed at five or more Olympic Games, only three of whom – Amy Acuff, Gail Devers and Willye White – did so in track and field.

She already owns more Olympic medals than all but one of those 15 athletes – 12-time medalist swimmer Dara Torres – and will look to add to that haul in Tokyo.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

In a tie, Wendy Holdener puts to rest a remarkable stat in Alpine skiing

0 Comments

Swiss Wendy Holdener ended one of the most remarkable victory droughts in sports by tying for the win with Swede Anna Swenn Larsson in a World Cup slalom in Killington, Vermont, on Sunday.

Holdener, after 15 second-place finishes and 15 third-place finishes in her career, stood on the top step of a World Cup slalom podium for the first time. She shared it with Swenn Larsson, who had six World Cup slalom podiums before Sunday and also earned her first win.

They beat Austrian Katharina Truppe by .22 of a second combining times from two runs.

ALPINE SKIING: Full Results | Broadcast Schedule

Holdener, 29, previously won three World Cups in other disciplines, plus two world championships in the combined and Olympic and world titles in the team event.

“To be tied first when I came into the finish was such a relief,” Holdener said while shoulder to shoulder with Swenn Larsson. “On the end, it’s perfect, because now we can share our first win together.”

Mikaela Shiffrin had the best first-run time but lost her lead midway through the second run and finished fifth. Shiffrin, who won the first two slaloms this season last weekend, was bidding for a 50th World Cup slalom victory and a sixth win in six slaloms in Killington.

“I fought. I think some spots I got a little bit off my timing, but I was pushing, and that’s slalom,” she said before turning her attention to Holdener and Swenn Larsson. “It’s a pretty special day, actually.”

The women’s Alpine skiing World Cup moves next weekend to Lake Louise, Alberta, with two downhills and a super-G.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Injured Ilia Malinin wins Grand Prix Finland, qualifies for Grand Prix Final

Ilia Malinin
Getty
0 Comments

Ilia Malinin, competing “a little bit injured” this week, still won Grand Prix Finland and goes into the Grand Prix Final in two weeks as the world’s top-ranked male singles skater.

Malinin, who was second after Friday’s short program, landed four clean quadruple jumps in Saturday’s free skate to overtake Frenchman Kevin Aymoz.

Malinin, who landed a quad flip in competition for the first time, according to SkatingScores.com, also attempted a quad Axel to open his program, but spun out of the landing and put his hand down on the ice.

Malinin also won his previous two starts this season in come-from-behind fashion. The 17-year-old world junior champion became the first skater to land a clean, fully rotated quad Axel in September, then did it again in October at Skate America, where he posted the world’s top overall score this season.

Next, Malinin can become the second-youngest man to win the Grand Prix Final after Russian Yevgeny Plushenko. His biggest competition is likely to be world champion Shoma Uno of Japan, who like Malinin won both of his Grand Prix starts this fall. Malinin and Uno have not gone head-to-head this season.

Grand Prix Finland highlights air on NBC, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET.

FIGURE SKATING: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Japan’s Mai Mihara overtook world silver medalist Loena Hendrickx of Belgium to become the only woman to win both of her Grand Prix starts this season. Mihara prevailed by .23 of a point. The top three women this season by best total score are Japanese, led by a junior skater, 14-year-old Mao Shimada, who isn’t Olympic age-eligible until 2030.

Mihara and Hendrickx qualified for the Grand Prix Final, joining world champion Kaori Sakamoto and Rinka Watanabe, both of Japan, South Korean Yelim Kim and American Isabeau Levito, the world junior champion.

Italians Rebecca Ghilardi and Filippo Ambrosini won both pairs’ programs and qualified for their first Grand Prix Final.

Japan’s Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara and Americans Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier headline the Final. Both pairs won each of their Grand Prix starts earlier this fall. The Japanese have the world’s two best scores this season. The Americans are reigning world champions.

At least one Russian or Chinese pair made every Grand Prix Final podium — usually pairs from both countries — but neither nation competed in pairs this Grand Prix season. All Russian skaters are banned due to the war in Ukraine. China’s lone entry on the Grand Prix across all disciplines was an ice dance couple.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier improved on their world-leading score for this season in winning the ice dance by 17.03 points over Americans Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker. Both couples qualified for the Grand Prix Final in the absence of all three Olympic medalists this fall.

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!