U.S. sprinter Allyson Felix has competed in four different Olympic Games – Athens, Beijing, London and Rio – and each one was different.
That includes Rio – and not because of Zika.
“I think Rio, for me, was all about kind of overcoming obstacles,” Felix said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “This was a very different Olympic Games for me. I got hurt earlier this season before trials, and so I wasn’t even sure I was going to be here. And so for me, it was about all these trials and challenges and still being able to show up there.”
Of course, Felix didn’t just show up; she won gold medals in the 4×100 and 4×400 relays and took home silver in the 400.
“If you’ve ran a 400 at any point in your life, it doesn’t matter how fast or slow you run. It hurts,” Felix said. “It’s extremely painful. It’s all about race strategy. For me, I’m a sprinter. I love to go fast. And so, it’s all about where you’re going to kick and how you’re going to have that speed endurance, how it’s going to maintain. And so typically the latter part of the race is when you’re kicking, somewhere from 200 to 150 left. People can break down or you can start to move.”
Felix wishes she would have run the first half of the 400 a little more aggressively. She clocked a 49.51 in the 400 – just seven-hundredths of a second behind Shaunae Miller, who dove across the line to win gold for the Bahamas.
“It’s a tough way to lose for sure,” said Felix, who, in the moment, wasn’t sure who had won. “I think any loss on the Olympic stage is very, very difficult. It was difficult. Those close ones are always hard.”
It’s also hard running in a relay when you get bumped. That’s exactly what happened to Felix during a qualifying heat in the 4×100, when a Brazilian runner accidentally hit her.
“I was shocked,” Felix said. “That is not something that happens in relays. When you’re running at that speed and you get hit, it is the biggest deal. It throws you completely off, so I was just stunned that that had even happened. I was just trying to kind of process it and thinking, ‘Okay, I was hit. What is the next step?’ That’s when I thought to tell my teammate (English Gardner) to get the baton and finish the race (because) we have to appeal this.”
The U.S. did exactly that and was given a second chance. The Americans had to run the 4×100 in less than 42.70 seconds to qualify for the final – and they had to do it alone.
“It was really strange,” Felix said. “I’ve never been in that experience where you’re running by yourself. When you don’t have competition, sometimes it is difficult to run fast. I think we just had to be really focused on ourselves and getting the baton around and also running fast enough to make that time. I think that what had happened in the morning just lit even more of a fire and we just wanted to get it done.”
The U.S. ran a 41.93 to qualify for the final, which it won. The Americans’ ran a 41.01, outpacing the Jamaicans’ 41.36.
Felix, 30, has now won six Olympic gold medals. She does not know if she will compete at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.
“I really don’t know,” she said. “I feel like I’m definitely going to run next year at the world championships and just take it year by year. If I’m still having fun with it, if I’m still passionate about it, then I will, if I’m able to compete on that level. But when that changes, that’s when I’ll know it’s time.”