Allyson Felix at the USATF press conference ahead of the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 (Getty Images) © Copyright
Feature Beijing, China

Felix ready for relay duty

So much has been written about Allyson Felix’s individual event options in Beijing – 200m, 400m or both – that it is easy to overlook the possibility that she could leave the IAAF World Championships, Beijing 2015 with three gold medals in any case.

After weighing up the 200m, in which she had a wild card as the 2014 Diamond Race winner, and the 400m, which she won at the US Championships, Felix opted for the longer event. She is an undeniable gold medal chance there.

Even without an individual double, however, Felix is capable of adding relay gold medals at both the 4x100m and 4x400m with her US team-mates by the time the championships conclude.

She already shares the record for the most World Championships gold medals, tied with Usain Bolt at eight a piece. Their tallies could, conceivably, reach 11 by next weekend.

“I’m planning on running both relays,” Felix told a US team press conference at the Bird’s Nest on Friday (21).

Felix said she had enjoyed working out with “the new girls” on the USA team. “I’m the oldest one there,” she said (Felix turns 30 this year).

“We’re looking to put forth a great team,” she added.

Technically, Felix is not yet in the relay. The relay coaches will make the final call on the personnel and order of the US squads.

“We’ve been working hard on the relays,” said women’s team coach Delethia Quarles. “The coach will be the deciding factor, along with Allyson’s desires.”

At the minute, then, Felix is a contender, though one with an undeniably strong case.

Felix went through the process by which she reached her decision on the individual event here.

“I felt in shape to do both,” she explained, “but in the end it really did not fit with the schedule.”

The crunch point would have been the evening of day six of the championships – Thursday 27 August – when Felix would have had to run the semi-final of the 200m and then, little more than an hour later, the final of the 400m.

It was a tough choice. Although Felix enjoys the ability to run the full range of the sprints, there is no doubt the 200m is her pet event.

“The 100m gives me the speed to run a great 200m,” said Felix, “and the 400m gives me the endurance. I’ve always been that way.”

But… “I just love the 200m. Being at a champs and not running it is difficult.”

Though expressing herself diplomatically, Felix is disappointed the schedule does not allow her to double here and would clearly love the glitch to be ironed out for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

“I would love to have the choice (or running the double next year). As of now, I think the schedule is like it is here, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

For now, it is the 400m and, hopefully, both relays in Beijing. The individual 400m has opened up with the failure of world leader Francena McCorory and Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross to secure spots on the US team (conversely, it also rather strengthens the long relay’s chances).

A McCorory-anchored USA squad defeated Jamaica to win at the IAAF World Relays in The Bahamas earlier this year. Richards-Ross was in that line-up too and with the addition of Felix to the mix it is hard to see any team improving enough to beat the USA in Beijing.

Strange things do happen in relays, however, first in getting the baton around, second in getting it round with legitimate changeovers. US men’s head coach Edrick Floreal opened the press conference with an apposite quote.

“Relay practice was tremendous,” Floreal said of the team training camp in Japan. “The baton kept going around, which is as we like it.”

It sounds simple, but experience tells us simple things sometimes get complicated.

The USA and Jamaica have swopped major wins in the women’s 4x100m over the past few major championships. A USA quartet set a world record in winning at the London 2012 Olympics. Jamaica turned the tables with a championship record performance at the 2013 World Championships and won again at the World Relays.

But if it all works out, Allyson Felix could still leave Beijing with a considerable swag of gold in her possession.

Len Johnson for the IAAF