3:37am

Wed May 23, 2012
London 2012: The Summer Olympics

Sprinter Speeds Toward London, And Olympic Gold

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 4:41 am

The Olympics start in July, but American sprinter Allyson Felix is still deciding which events she'll focus on in London. She's won Olympic silver medals twice in her beloved 200 meters, a distance in which she's also a three–time world champion.

Felix won an Olympic gold in 2008, on the 4x400-meter relay team. But this time around, she wants an individual gold, too.

New Success At 100 Meters

Slim and determined, with her ponytail bouncing, Felix exploded out of the blocks in the 100 meters at this month's Doha Diamond League meet in Qatar. The field included the top sprinters from around the world.

Before the short race, some sports commentators had written off Felix, who's known for the longer sprints. But she won, setting a personal and meet record with a blistering 10.92 seconds. So does that mean Felix will take on the 100 along with the 200 meters — her favorite race in the Summer Olympics?

"It's definitely one of my possibilities that I kind of talked about from the beginning," Felix says at the Olympics media day in Dallas. "I think since my last race, now people actually believe me."

So how will she decide between the 100 and 400 meters for her second event?

"I'm just going to start saying, 'Ask Bobby,' " she answers, referring to her legendary coach Bobby Kersee, who will make a choice before the Olympic trials.

Last year, Felix had been focused on endurance training when she tried a double at the worlds. She ran second in the 400 meters — but, she says, that when she reached for that extra gear at the end of her all-important 200, it wasn't there.

"Yeah that's one of my struggles, which is why I'm kind of going back and forth with it," she says. "The 200 is my baby. You know, I love that race — and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize it."

Felix says one of the reasons she loves the 200 is the rhythm of the race, and the way it feels to fly off that curve into the straightaway.

"I love the 'being whipped-off' feeling — that slingshot when you do it right," she says.

A Love For Winning

Felix's love of the sport sparkles in her eyes. Her big brother, Wes, says she has an insanely competitive streak.

"There's only one place, and it's first — and if it's not that, then it's utter disappointment," he says. "Whether it's second or eighth, it's all the same: It's not winning."

Wes Felix both manages and protects his sister. He says that even if she's just bowling, she aims to win.

"Anything she can beat you at, she's all about it!" he says with a laugh.

He describes a recent event in Washington, D.C., in which athletes taught kids to use video games for fitness. Felix kept playing against the machine, even though the rest of her group had moved on. Hearing the story, Felix shrugs.

"I have to win!" she says with a laugh.

The daughter of a preacher and a third-grade teacher, Felix says her faith is also an important part of her life. She believes her talent is a gift that she uses to bring glory to God. Felix says her faith, and her family, keep her grounded.

"Me and my mom have prayer before every race," Felix says. "So I always call her; that calms my nerves."

'She's Always Smiling'

Felix doesn't look nervous when she runs. Her smooth, almost gazelle-like stride belies the heart she puts into it. She showed that heart in two USA vs. the World competitions at the Penn Relays in April.

Felix ran a scorching leg in the women's 4x100-meter relay. She and Team USA set two meet records, and the crowed loved it.

Among them was Dacia Harris, who came decked out in Jamaica's colors: yellow, black and green. But, she says, she's also cheering for "one little American — just one."

Asked why she's on Felix's side, Harris says, "She's always smiling. She always looks so calm, you know? Like she has a good time."

Felix does have a good time on the track. And though she admits to being devastated about losing her last two attempts at individual Olympic gold in the 200 — to Jamaica's Veronica Campbell Brown — she's also looking forward to a rematch.

"I'm a competitor," she says. "I want the best people on the track. I don't want to win without her in the race."

And Allyson Felix says she'll go after that win — and her first 200m Olympic gold — with everything she has.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

With the Olympics just two months away, one Olympic medalist is still trying to decide which events she'll focus on in London. Sprinter Allyson Felix has won Olympic silver twice in the 200 meters - where, by the way, she's also a three-time world champion. Plus, she won Olympic gold in 2008 as part of the U.S. 4-by-00 relay. But this time around, Felix says she wants her own gold medal.

NPR's Allison Keyes reports.

(SOUNDBITE OF STARTER PISTOL)

ALLISON KEYES, BYLINE: Slim and determined, ponytail bouncing, world champion sprinter Allyson Felix exploded out of the blocks in the 100 meters at this month's Doha Diamond League meet in Qatar. The field included the top sprinters around the world.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: It's very tight - good running from Felix there on the far side in the yellow socks.

KEYES: Some sports commentators had written off this short race for the woman known for her chops at longer sprints, but Felix won with a blistering 10.92 seconds. So does that mean she'll take on the 100 along with her favorite race of the summer Olympics?

ALLYSON FELIX: It's definitely one of my possibilities that I have kind of talked about from the beginning. I think since my last race, now, people actually believe me.

KEYES: And how will she decide between the 100 and 400 meters for her second event?

FELIX: I'm just going to start saying, ask Bobby.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KEYES: That's her coach the legendary Bobby Kersee who will make a choice before the Olympic trials. Last year, Felix had been focused on endurance training when she tried a double at the worlds. She ran second in the 400, but says when she reached for that extra gear at the end of her all-important 200, it wasn't there

FELIX: Yeah that's one of my struggles with just kind of going back and forth with it. And the 200 is my baby. You know, I love that race and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize it.

KEYES: Felix says one of the reasons she loves the 200 is the rhythm of the race, and the way it feels to fly off that curve into the straightaway.

FELIX: I love the being whipped off feeling, you know, that slingshot when you do it right.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KEYES: Her love of the sport sparkles in her eyes. And her big brother, Wes, says she has an insane competitive streak.

WES FELIX: There's only one place and it's first. And if it's not that it's, you know, utter disappointment. Whether it's second or eight it's all the same - it's not winning.

KEYES: Wes Felix manages and protects his sister. And says even if she's just bowling, Allyson aims to win.

FELIX: Anything she can beat you at, she's all about it.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: One, two, three, four...

KEYES: Even at a recent event in Washington - teaching kids to use video games for fitness - he points at Allyson, still competing against the machine when the rest of her group has moved on. She shrugs.

FELIX: I have to win.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

KEYES: The daughter of a preacher and a third grade teacher, Felix says her faith is also an important part of her life. She believes her talent is a gift and she uses it to bring glory to God.

FELIX: Me and my mom have prayer before every race, so I always call her. That calms my nerves.

(SOUNDBITE OF STARTER PISTOL)

KEYES: Felix doesn't look nervous when she runs. Her smooth, almost gazelle-like stride belies the heart she puts into it - like she did in two USA versus the World events at the recent Penn relays. Felix ran a scorching leg in the women's four-by-100.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: There's Allyson Felix...

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING)

KEYES: Felix and Team USA set two meet records and the crowed loved it.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #3: U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A!

KEYES: Dacia Harris came decked out in Jamaica's yellow, black and green but she's also cheering for

DACIA HARRIS: One little American.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

HARRIS: Just this one.

KEYES: Why is Harris on Team Felix?

HARRIS: She's always smiling. She's always looks so calm. You know, like she has a good time.

KEYES: Felix does have a good time on the track, though she admits being devastated over losing her last two attempts at individual Olympic gold in the 200 to Jamaica's Veronica Campbell Brown. She's looking forward to a rematch.

FELIX: For me, I'm a competitor. I want the best people on the track. I don't want to win without her in the race.

KEYES: And Allyson Felix says she'll go after that win and her first 200 meter Olympic gold with everything she has.

Allison Keyes, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.