Dick Patrick focused on Allyson Felix and the women’s 200 meters, which showed how special Allyson really is. With the sixth fastest 200 meter performance of ALL time, the 21,000 plus fans on Saturday, June 30, all saw something special.
Here is how Dick saw the 200 meters:
By Dick Patrick
June 30, 2012
If there were a Miss Congeniality Award in track & field, Allyson Felix would surely be in contention. She smiles more often than it rains at the U.S. Olympic Track & Field Trials. She’s normally as cheerful and friendly as an elementary school teacher, which is a possible future profession.
But there was a different look to Felix Saturday at the Trials. There was no smile, no wave as she was introduced in Lane 6 before the women’s 200 meter final. Just a steely stare, determination etched on her face. The woman, 26, who made her first Olympic team at 18 and has two silver medals in the 200, was trying to earn a berth in an individual event.
She was coming off an emotional week. On June 23, she and training partner Jeneba Tarmoh tied for third in the 100. Though both runners were put on the team as possible 4×100 relay runners, the tie breaking procedure to name the final entrant in the 100 was left to a Saturday night meeting of the runners, their coach, Bob Kersee, and Benita Fitzgerald Brown, the chief of high performance sport for USA Track & Field.
A week ago, after the 100 when it appeared Felix was fourth instead of tied for third, she was devastated, bent over in disappointment. She was sheer power Saturday when the gun fired. Not known for getting out of the blocks well, she had one of the best starts of her career.
She had a clear lead in hitting the straightaway against a stellar field that included the five fastest women in the world in the event this year. “It’s very rare for me to be coming off any curve in the lead,” Felix said.
The lead expanded. Felix finished in 21.69, the No.6 time ever and the fastest in the last 14 years.
Carmelita Jeter, who won the Trials 100 last week and was second in the 200 at the ’11 world championships, took second (22.11) and Trials 400 champ Sanya Richards-Ross third (22.22). Those not earning a 200 berth included fourth-place Kimberlyn Duncan (22.34), the NCAA champ from LSU, and fifth-place Tarmoh (22.35).
Felix turned an expected showdown into a runaway victory. “I guess it was all about fighting to make the team,” she said of her aggressive race. “It definitely has been an emotional entire time at Trials. It’s emotional trying to make this team. You train so hard. I was thinking of the hours on the track and just those grueling days. You don’t do it just for nothing. Thinking about all that, I wanted to leave it all on the track today.”
The time was a breakthrough for Felix, whose previous best was 21.81, set while winning the 2007 world championships. “Fantastic,” said Kersee. “I thought she’d run 21.80 or better. I knew both her and Jeneba were ready to run. Jeneba was not used to this as much as Allyson. I think she got tired at the end.”
The only women to have run faster than Felix are world recordholder Florence Griffith-Joyner (21.34, 1988), Marion Jones (21.62 at altitude, 1998) and Merlene Ottey (21.64, 1991).
“I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet,” Felix said. “For so long, I’ve looked at those times. I had just been kind of inching along, hoping to be up there on the list. It’s extremely special. As time goes on it will sink in even more, but the job is not done. It’s all about London and getting it done there.”
There’s another matter, the method of settling the dead heat with Tarmoh after both finished in 11.068 seconds. Even before the scheduled Saturday night meeting, Kersee said after the 200 that a runoff Sunday would not occur.
“Why would you subject these athletes to severe injury?” Kersee said. “It’s hard enough as it is. They’ve had wet weather all Trials. Their muscles have been warmed up, warmed down, warmed up, whatever. Their bodies are definitely going to be sore for 48-72 hours.”
Felix and Tarmoh, 22, in her first year as a professional, have shared a lot of sore muscles as training partners, forging a bond. “Whatever Bobby Kersee throws at us, we’re dying together out there,” Felix said. “Just the grueling training environment. It’s a lot about pushing each other, helping each other reach your goal. When you see someone every day and see their progress, it’s a special relationship.”
Both Tarmoh and Felix said they did not discuss the tiebreaking procedure during the week.” I think my coach, Bobby Kersee, did an amazing job not letting it get to us,” Felix said. “He kept telling us to stay focused (on the 200) and get it done.
Kersee doesn’t think there should be a rush to decide when to either have a run off or flip a coin, the two choices USATF has proposed if one of the athletes does not turn down the 100 berth. USATF wants its team chosen by the end of the meet Sunday, though the roster doesn’t have to be submitted to the International Olympic Committee until July 8.
“It’s what is in the best interests of the athletes is what it should come down to,” Kersee said. “The 21.69 should be the story (today).”
Felix’s competition in London is likely to come from the Jamaicans, including Veronica Campbell-Brown, who beat Felix at the ’04 and ’08 Games as well as the ’11 world championships. Felix won world titles in the 200 at the ’05, ’07 and ’09 world championships.
Kersee, who has coached some of the best athletes in history including Griffith-Joyner, doesn’t think the 21.69 represents Felix’s ultimate peak: “I’ve said it before – I still think she could run under 10.60 (in the 100) and 21.50. She’s that good of an athlete.
“She’s still getting stronger. She’s learning the sport more. Obviously her conditioning in the (400) is there as well. She’s a class act. She’s a hard working athlete. The ability is there. I’ve been blessed to coach some of the best athletes in the world in the sprints and what have you. I kind of think I know talent just a little bit. She’s very talented.”