Veteran sprinter Allyson Felix squeezed into a final at her final U.S. championships on Friday, taking a late qualifying spot for the women’s 400 metres.
America’s most decorated track-and-field athlete will set off on Saturday’s final seventh-fastest in the field of eight after clocking 51.32 seconds in the semifinals. But she is hoping the run will not end her illustrious career. A spot on a U.S. relay team in July’s world championships in Eugene likely awaits the 36-year-old regardless of her finish in the 400 metres.
American athletics rules permit coaches and officials the discretion of adding two runners in each relay pool in addition to the top four finishers in the men's and women's 100 and 400 metres finals.
Felix, winner of 11 Olympic medals and 18 world championships honours, appears a likely candidate for one of them. And if she is chosen, the Californian knows which relay she would pick.
“I like the mixed relay,” she told Reuters last week, mentioning the event in which she won a gold medal in the Doha world championships in 2019.
‘Different to be running 400m’
“It’s special to be going out,” Felix said of her career ending U.S. championships. “It’s different to be running the 400. It’s not my true love, so it’s a bit more challenging. (The 200) that’s my baby but I have a baby now so I’m not sure how that works.”
Having her young daughter, Camryn, has made Felix a trailblazer in the fight for rights for mothers and she looks forward to devoting more time to the challenge along with leading her own apparel company that developed the shoes she now wears in competition.
She said she was grateful for all of the support she has received in a career that began as a high school student and includes five Olympics and nine world championships. “It's been the majority of my life,” she said of running. “It has given me so much. It's been what I love to do.”
And the racing part will all end in Los Angeles, her hometown, on the first weekend of August.
A street race is in the works to celebrate. The distance has yet to be determined but it will be no longer than 150 metres, the sprinter said.
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