10 Things You Didn’t Know About Olympic Sprinter Allyson Felix
Already one of the fastest women in America, Allyson Felix is ready to take on the world at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Felix, 26, is one of an impressive collection of US sprinters including Carmelita Jeter, Tianna Madison and Sanya Richards-Ross. The Americans’ chief rivals will be the fleet Jamaican team, with defending Olympic champions Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Veronica Campbell-Brown.
The London Games are Felix’s third Olympics, but her impressive performance in the 200 meters at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR in June — a personal best of 21.69 seconds — makes the veteran sprinter the favorite to win gold in the event in London.
Here are 10 things you may not have known about Allyson Felix:
Fast Facts About Allyson Felix
Allyson Felix was born in Los Angeles, California on November 18, 1985. Her father, Paul, is an ordained minister and her mother, Marlean, is an elementary school teacher.
As a senior at Los Angeles Baptist High School in North Hills, CA, Felix was named the national girls’ High School Athlete of the Year for 2003 by ‘Track and Field News.’ She later graduated from the University of Southern California with a degree in elementary education.
She Already Has A Gold Medal, But Not The One She Wants
This is Felix’s third Olympics. She earned a gold medal as part of the US team that won the 4×400 meters in Beijing in 2008. However, her specialty — and the event she relentlessly trains for — is the 200 meters. Felix earned silver medals in the 200 meters in both Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.
“The 200 meters is my baby,” Felix said. “To me, it’s the perfect distance. It’s still a true sprint, but it unravels more. You get to enjoy the race a little bit more than the 100.”
Felix will also run the 100 and 400 meters in London and could be tabbed to run as part of the U.S. relay teams.
She Has Already Made History
In 2009, Felix became the first woman to win three world 200-meter titles by winning the 200 meters at the IAAF World Outdoor Championships in Berlin. In 2007, Felix became just the second woman (Marita Koch) to win three gold medals at one World Championships, winning the 200 meters, as well as the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relays.
Felix won the Jesse Owens Award as the Track Athlete of the Year a record-tying three times: 2005, 2007 and 2010. She shares the record with Michael Johnson and Marion Jones.
She Has A Rival
Much like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal simultaneously serve as competition and motivation for each other on the tennis court, two-time defending Olympic champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica pushes Felix on the track. Of the five world championship and two Olympic 200-meter races in the past eight years, Felix or Campbell-Brown has won every one of them.
“I would love to trade my three world championships for your [Olympic] gold, ” Felix said to Campbell-Brown.
She Is Running One Race To Win Another
At the Olympic Trials in June, Felix finished just a fraction behind Jeneba Tarmoh for the third spot in the U.S. 100 meter field, but race officials ruled it a tie. The two sprinters were to run off for the final spot, but Tarmoh declined to race and ceded the victory to Felix.
Felix is running the 100 meters because it helps prepare her for the 200 meters. While the 100 meters is an all-out sprint, the 200 meters requires runners to be able to run the turn into a sprint. The 100 will prepare Felix for the final kick of the 200.
“She doesn’t really care about being 100-meter Olympic champion, and she knows that is one hell of a long shot. But she understands that running the 100 in London will almost guarantee that she wins the 200,” two-time 200-meter Olympic medalist and NBC commentator Ato Boldon said of Felix.
She Graduated From USC, But Trains At UCLA
Though Felix is a proud alumna of the University of Southern California, she trains at USC’s crosstown rival, UCLA, where the track facility has long been a launching pad to stardom for many US Olympians such as Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Florence Griffith-Joyner and more. Felix trains with Bobby Kersee – the husband and former coach of Jackie Joyner-Kersee.
Despite being nicknamed ‘Chicken Legs’ by her teammates at Los Angeles Baptist High School, Felix has great strength. The diminutive sprinter was able to deadlift 270 pounds — more than twice her body weight— in high school and she can now leg press more than 700 pounds.
Adidas Paid for her College Education; Nike Helped Get Her To London
Already an up-and-coming track star when she graduated high school in 2003, Felix decided to forego her college eligibility and signed a professional contract with Adidas. The sneaker company paid her a fee and also covered the cost of her college tuition while she was enrolled at USC.
In 2010, Felix entered into an agreement with Nike, which has helped fund her training for the London Games. She has been part of their ‘ Make Yourself Proud’ campaign and endorsed the Nike ‘Free’ shoe system. Felix is at the center of Nike’s #GameOnWorld campaign unveiled earlier this month intended to “create an entire digital ecosystem for athletes, where NikeFuel is the universal currency providing inspiration, motivation and competition.”
Felix has additional sponsorships from Acuvue, Procter & Gamble, AT&T and Gatorade.
She Is Pure of Body and Spirit
Felix is a participant in US Anti-Doping Agency’s “Project Believe,” which calls for regular testing — even outside of competition — to make certain that athletes are not using any performance-enhancing drugs or substances.
Raised by a minister, Felix is a devout Christian. She believes her running skill is a gift from a higher power.
“My faith is the reason I run – it calms my heart and makes everything feel like a lift. My speed is definitely a gift from Him, and I run for His glory. Whatever I do, He allows me to do it.”
She May Have the Fastest Agent In the World
Felix’s older brother, Wes, serves as her agent. In 2002, Wes Felix was the USA Junior Champion in the 200 meters in 2002 and the Pac 10 champion in the 200 meters in both 2003 and 2004 while running for USC. If Felix can win the gold medal in the 200, Wes expects to be very busy lining up additional sponsors and endorsements for his little sister.
She Skypes Her Dog
When Felix travels long distances for international competitions, she leaves behind her beloved dog, Chloe. To give herself a sense of home and to check in with favorite pooch, Felix has set up a Skype account to allow her to see her dog, which settles her mind prior to racing.