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Allyson Felix: Worth its wait in gold?

SCV’s Allyson Felix has two Olympic silver medals, but is trying for her first individual gold

Posted: April 15, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 15, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Santa Clarita Valley resident Allyson Felix celebrates winning bronze in the Women’s 200-meter final at the World Athletics Championships in Daegu, South Korea on Sept. 2, 2011. Felix is training for the upcoming United Trials Olympic Trials, where she will try to earn a trip to London for her third straight appearance in the Summer Olympics.

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Allyson Felix’s spring and summer schedule is packed.

She just finished a training camp in Santa Barbara, which prepared her for this weekend’s Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational at UCLA. She says she plans on competing at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays next weekend. She’ll then head overseas for more training.

Actual competition will be scarce.

“There’s not that many races between now and the Olympics,” she says.

But there’s a good reason the 26-year-old Santa Clarita Valley resident is doing so much. It’s because she’s trying to do something she’s never done before.

In the past two Summer Olympics, Felix has finished as the silver medalist in the women’s 200-meter final. Both times, she’s lost to 29-year-old Jamaican Veronica Campbell-Brown.

Felix is determined not to let it happen again.

“I feel like I’ve had so long to think about getting silver,” Felix says. “It’s a constant motivator. I couldn’t be any more determined to get it done. I’m just happy to hopefully have another opportunity.”

She says “hopefully” because the United States Olympic Trials won’t take place for another couple months. But it would be a major upset if Felix didn’t qualify for her third Olympics, which will take place in London from July 27-Aug. 12.

Since finishing a decorated prep career at Los Angeles Baptist High School in 2003, Felix has dominated the professional sprint scene, especially the 200. In addition to her two Olympic silver medals, she’s also the first American woman to win outdoor national titles in the 100, 200 and 400.

In 2007, she became only the second woman to win three gold medals at one World Outdoor Championships, which are held every two years. She’s also the only woman to win three separate world titles in the 200.

Felix does own an Olympic gold medal — she was part of the United States’ winning 4x400 relay team in 2008 — but the lack of Olympic gold in the 200 still motivates her.

“Extremely,” she says.

So she’s done something about it. Beginning in 2010, Felix began focusing more on the 400, which would help her build more strength and endurance for the 200.

Those are two areas in which Felix feels Campbell-Brown got the best of her during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, which was considered an upset victory by the Jamaican.

“The 200 is a full-out sprint, so when it came down to the end, I didn’t have the endurance that she did,” Felix says.

Felix’s workout regimen is the stuff of legend in track and field circles. Despite standing 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 125 pounds, she can reportedly deadlift 245 pounds and leg-press more than five times her weight.

These days, Felix trains six days a week in preparation for the summer. She says she spends three hours on the track working on speed and endurance, and from there, she goes to the gym and does two more hours of strength training.

Because of her grueling schedule, Felix says she relishes living in the Santa Clarita Valley.

“To me, it’s very beautiful, and the feeling of being away from the hustle and bustle of L.A.,” says Felix, who trains in Marina Del Rey but lives locally. “My family’s been there since high school. I feel like I always want to have a place there.”

Her commitment to the 400 resulted in a silver-medal finish at the 2011 World Championships last August. However, it also cost her in the 200 as she settled for bronze.

That was the last major race that featured both Felix and Campbell-Brown, who ended up winning. But it’s not like Campbell-Brown is some mystery that Felix can’t solve.

Felix has been victorious in big races against the Jamaican star, who stands two inches shorter and almost 10 pounds heavier than Felix. Just not in the Olympics.

“In the races I’ve ran against her, she’s just stepped up and ran very well at the right time,” Felix says. “The trouble I have, she’s a very fast starter and her body is built where she can navigate the turns. I feel like I’ve stepped up, but not as much as her.”

Because of the quick turnaround between the 400 and 200 at meets, Felix isn’t sure she’s going to run the 400 in the Olympics yet. She says she’ll let her coach, Bob Kersee, make that decision right before the Olympic Trials.

When Felix — presumably — makes it to London this summer, she says she plans to spend time with her family and watching other events when she’s not competing.

But competition will be the reason she’s there, the drive to wear individual gold for the first time at the Olympic Games.
It’s quite a long way from the Santa Clarita Valley, whose enthusiastic running community will be rooting for Felix.

“It’s a very friendly community,” she says. “There’s been a lot of success there. It’s like we’re all from the same place.”
Hopefully come this summer, Felix’s place will be atop the podium in London.

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