Published on June 2nd, 2012 | by Alan Abrahamson0
Allyson Felix: “… right where I need to be”
EUGENE, Ore. — The signs were there last month, when Allyson Felix blasted to a 10.92 to win a 100-meter Diamond League sprint in Doha, Qatar, defeating both the reigning Olympic champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and the 200-meter champ, Veronica Campbell-Brown, both Jamaicans.
Here Friday, she had said, “I feel like I’m right on schedule, right where I need to be.”
She showed up Saturday for her baby, the 200, in a black bodysuit that evoked comparisons to something Cathy Freeman might have worn back in the day. And then Allyson Felix went out and made everyone else in the field look slow, and in particular the 2011 world championship silver medalist, Carmelia Jeter.
Felix won in 22.23 seconds, just one-hundredth off the year’s best time, run by LSU junior Kimberlyn Duncan at an NCAA regional meet last week.
Jeter, who has a personal best of 22.20 in the 200, a season’s-best of 22.31, managed only 22.78. She finished fifth.
American Jeneba Tarmoh finished second in 22.61, Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria third in 22.63, and another American, Bianca Knight, fourth, in 22.64. The times don’t tell the true story. If it’s possible to jog to the line in a 200, Allyson Felix kinda sorta did.
An Allyson Felix who is right on schedule, right where she needs to be, means big things.
It’s big for the United States track program. She could — should? — win four medals. Some number — four? — should be gold.
It’s big for NBC. (Let’s face facts.) The network needs to build story lines around all those nights of television programming. Allyson Felix is everything you’d want: she’s well-spoken, and the camera loves following her around the track, even in a black bodysuit.
Plus, she’s on a mission: she has done everything in the sport. Everything. Won it all, done it all.
Except — except the one thing she has always wanted, Olympic gold in the 200.
Twice she has won Olympic silver in the 200, in 2004 and 2008, both times behind Campbell-Brown.
The issue on the table, as it has been for months, is what events Felix will run in London — that is, besides the 200.
Start with the relays. Those are a given.
She has long said she wants to double up her individual events.
Last year, in Daegu, she ran the 200 and 400.
This year, could it be the 100 and the 200?
For starters, the 400 comes first in the Olympic program. It’s way more taxing.
If the 400 came after the 200, Felix said here Friday, “it would be very, very easy,” meaning she would for sure do a 200-400 double.
Complicating the decision, perhaps, is the resurgence of American Sanya Richards-Ross. Hurt in 2011, fully healthy now, Richards-Ross ran a world-best 49.39 here Saturday for the win, defeating Amantle Montsho of Botswana, the 2011 400 champ; it was Montsho who defeated Felix last year in Daegu by a mere three-hundredths of a second.
Montsho’s winning 2011 Daegu time: 49.56.
The challenges in the 100 are who she’s running against — Jeter, Fraser-Pryce, Campbell-Brown — and herself. “The start has always been my issue,” she said, and in a race that quick, a bad start and it’s all but over.
Felix had said Friday that both the 100 and 400 were “still on the table.” She said she intends to run next week in New York and then sit down with her longtime coach, Bobby Kersee, to make a decision.
She left here Saturday feeling strong. “I feel,” she said, “like I’m in a good place.”