DES MOINES — Allyson Felix finished sixth in the USATF Outdoor Championships 400m, which will likely put her in a ninth straight world championships. And her first as a mom.
But a fifth Olympics, not a ninth worlds, are at the front of her mind.
Felix made that clear after racing three times in as many days in her first meet since having daughter Camryn via emergency C-section at 32 weeks on Nov. 28.
The top three go to worlds in Doha in two months in the individual 400m. The top six are generally taken for the 4x400m relay pool.
This will be the first time in Felix’s 16-year pro career that she will not be going to the Olympics or worlds in an individual event. Unsurprising given she said before the meet, her first in more than a year, that she was “far from” her best.
Felix said she will talk with her coach, Bobby Kersee, and consider her fitness before deciding whether to accept a potential relay invitation.
“It’s bigger than world championships,” said Felix, who had four and a half months of good training before this meet, shorter than she would normally prefer. “I would love to be running for an individual spot at world championships, but where I’m at in my career — I’m grateful for all my experiences at world championships — I want to be back at the Olympics. I want that more than anything. I want to go out on my terms.”
Felix was sixth in 51.94 seconds, 1.73 seconds behind winner Shakima Wimbley. In three rounds here, she ran 52.50, 51.45 and 51.94, well off her personal best of 49.26 and her routine ability to get close to 50 flat, and usually break it, at major meets from 2011 to 2016.
Felix, the most decorated female Olympic track and field athlete with nine medals and six golds, has made every U.S. Olympic and world team dating to 2003, when she was 17 years old.
This was her toughest team to make yet. Camryn and husband Kenneth Ferguson wore “Felix the Cat” clothing in the Drake Stadium stands.
“I did this off very little training, so that gives me a lot of hope,” she said.
USATF Outdoors conclude Sunday with finals including the men’s and women’s 200m.
USATF OUTDOORS: TV Schedule | Full Results
In other events, Michael Norman was upset in the 400m by Fred Kerley, who clocked a personal-best 43.64 to become the sixth-fastest man in history. Norman, undefeated the previous two years, was second in 43.79 to make his first world team. Norman revealed afterward that he didn’t practice the previous two weeks because of an unspecified strain.
“Originally, I wasn’t supposed to run,” said Norman, has run 43.45 this year. “I made [the decision] the day of racing. I warmed up and said I could do it.”
Paralympian and double amputee Blake Leeper was fifth, which would normally be enough to make worlds in the relay (like Felix), but he is facing a legal battle with the IAAF.
World-record holder Keni Harrison won the 100m hurdles in 12.44 and will be joined on the world team by Olympic gold and silver medalists Brianna McNeal and Nia Ali.
Shelby Houlihan repeated as U.S. 1500m champion, clocking 4:03.18 to relegate Jenny Simpson to second place by overtaking the Olympic bronze medalist on the last curve. They’re joined on the world team by Nikki Hiltz. Simpson, 32, has made 10 straight Olympic/world teams.
Two American records fell: DeAnna Price broke her own mark in the hammer (78.24 meters). Sam Kendricks broke Brad Walker‘s 11-year-old mark in the pole vault, clearing 6.06 meters. Only Ukrainian legend Sergey Bubka has cleared a higher height outdoors.
Vashti Cunningham, daughter of retired NFL All-Pro quarterback Randall Cunningham, took her third straight high jump crown. Cunningham, who ranks third in the world this year, cleared 1.96 meters.
Hillary Bor won the men’s 3000m steeplechase that lacked Olympic silver medalist Evan Jager, who will miss worlds due to a foot injury.
Rio gold medalists Tianna Bartoletta (long jump) and Kerron Clement (400m hurdles) will not be going to worlds after finishing last in their finals. Bartoletta jumped off her opposite foot following an injury last year, NBC Sports’ Paul Swangard said. Clement’s streak of 10 straight Olympic/world teams ends.
In non-finals, Noah Lyles and Christian Coleman moved closer to a showdown in Sunday’s 200m by advancing to the semifinals. Lyles is the fastest 200m runner in the world for two straight years. Coleman is the fastest 100m runner in the world for three straight years.
Olympic bronze medalist Tori Bowie and two-time U.S. champion Jenna Prandini scratched their 200m first-round heats. Both Bowie and Prandini also scratched out of the 100m, meaning Prandini will miss worlds.
Bowie can still compete at worlds in the 100m, where she is defending champion, because she competed in the long jump later Saturday. Defending champions have byes into worlds if they compete in at least one event at nationals.
Sha’Carri Richardson, who last month won the NCAA 100m in 10.75 seconds to become the ninth-fastest woman in history, missed the 200m semifinals by .001. The 19-year-old will likely miss the world team after placing eighth in the 100m on Friday.
All the favorites advanced in the 110m hurdles (Grant Holloway, Daniel Roberts, Devon Allen) and 400m hurdles (Dalilah Muhammad, Sydney McLaughlin, Shamier Little).
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