How Allyson Felix Won Her 11 Olympic Medals in Track
TOKYO – Allyson Felix had made her mark, collecting so many titles and winning so many races as America’s most famous female athlete. On Saturday night, her accomplishments were officially unmatched on the American track, and she found herself in a familiar position at the Olympic stadium: atop the podium with a gold medal draped around her neck.
But Felix, 35, was not alone. She was joined by three teammates who had run the 4x400m relay with her earlier in the evening, and the symbolism has not escaped the notice of Félix, a staunch defender in recent years of female athletes, mothers and equality of women. sexes.
“Being around these women at that time was really special,” she said.
In her last run as an Olympian and on the last night of athletics at the Tokyo Games, Felix came out as the champion, saving her crown for last. She won her 11th medal, which made her the most decorated American track and field athlete in Olympic history, overtaking Carl Lewis, the sprinter and long jumper who won 10 between 1984 and 1996.
“I just came out really in peace and wanted to soak up everything,” Felix said.
It helped, she said, that she had “complete confidence” in her teammates, a collection of luminaries, present and future. Felix acknowledged that the race – in particular, the 3 minutes and 16.85 seconds it took for the USA team to circle the track four times – felt like a generational passing of the torch.
Sydney McLaughlin, who turned 22 on Saturday, and Dalilah Muhammad, 31, joined forces after facing each other this week in the 400-meter hurdles final, a classic race in which McLaughlin edged Muhammad at the line to break her own world record. Athing Mu, a 19-year-old phenomenon from New Jersey, had won the 800 meters with a dominant performance days earlier.
And there was Felix, of course, who reiterated that this would be his last Olympics. She first competed at the Athens Games in 2004, when she won silver in the 200 meters as a fresh-faced prodigy. It was only later in her career that she would become an icon that transcends sport.
“I have been definitely inspired by her throughout my career,” said Muhammad.
“It was a once in a lifetime opportunity,” McLaughlin said.
“I think it was great,” Felix said.
Felix suggested her success in Tokyo had been fueled in part by skeptics wondering if she could compete for another medal at her fifth Olympics, after giving birth to her first child in 2018.
“I think I had to overcome the challenges and the fights, and I’m absolutely where I’m meant to be,” she said.
Her 10th medal came on Friday night in the women’s 400 meters, the first bronze medal of her Olympic career. She was doing interviews in the press room when the women of the Jamaican 4x100m relay team interrupted her: they wanted hugs. Faith Kipyegon of Kenya, who repeated her title as the women’s 1,500 meters champion, found her for a photo she posted on Instagram.
“Mothers are strong! Kipyegon wrote in the caption.
On Saturday, the US team was also unusual as neither of the women is a 400-meter specialist. But the result of the race was never questioned. McLaughlin ran in the first leg to put the United States ahead of Poland, then passed the baton to Felix, who gave the Americans the lead on their own. By the time Muhammad circled the track and transferred to Mu, the other seven teams were in another prefecture. Mu ran his 400 in 48.32 seconds which was the fastest stage of the entire peloton.
On the podium, Felix closed his eyes and tried to embrace the sentiment.
– One last time, she said.
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