Beaten but unbowed, Allyson Felix said on Saturday she is determined to bring the curtain down on her glittering track and field career on her own terms.
The 33-year-old American superstar failed to clinch a 400m berth for the World Championships after only finishing sixth at Drake Stadium, but could still travel to Doha as a member of the USA relay squad.
It means that for the first time, Felix will not enter an individual event at a major championship, an astonishing 16-year streak that encompasses four Olympic Games and eight world championships.
Yet Felix, who was racing this week for the first time in more than a year after taking time out of the sport for the birth of her daughter, is determined to book a spot in Tokyo at what would be her fifth Olympics.
“I want to be back in the Olympics,” Felix told reporters.
“I want that more than anything. I want to go out on my terms. A little sacrifice here and there and it will be worth it.”
Read | Incumbent Coe is the only candidate for IAAF presidency
Getting back into the groove
Felix’s time on Saturday of 51.94 sec was well outside her personal best of 49.26 seconds set in Beijing in 2015, a time she never came close to challenging in three races in Des Moines this week.
However Felix, the only female track and field athlete to win six Olympic gold medals, is confident that she can get back to where she needs to be with a full off-season of training under her belt.
“I did this off very little training and that gives me a lot of hope,” Felix said.
“I’m just happy that I went for it here. I could have not run, stayed at home and trained.
“But I think it was good for me to get out here and push myself a little bit, even though I knew I wasn’t where I’m normally at.”
Most importantly, Felix said competing in Iowa this week had stoked her competitive fire.
“This gave me a taste, like I know it’s there,” Felix said.
“The fire is there. I’ll be back next year.” And despite the failure to clinch a top three finish on Saturday, Felix was anything but disappointed.
“I am grateful more than anything,” Felix said. “I think it would be crazy for me to say that I was disappointed.
“I have my health, I have my family and I couldn’t ask for more than that. And I am still able to do the thing that I love.”