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A supremely talented sprinter who has been competing at the highest level since she was 18, Allyson Felix had to wait until London 2012 before finally becoming an individual Olympic champion, outclassing her rivals to win gold in the 200m.
It was at London’s Olympic Stadium on 8 August 2012 that Allyson Felix brought an end to her long quest for an individual gold. After flying out of the blocks, she emerged from the turn in the lead and pulled away from Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price and fellow American Carmelita Jeter to win in a time of 21.88. Buoyed by this maiden success, she went out and won a second gold two days later, this time in the 4x100m relay, putting in a searing leg down the far straight to help the USA team set a new world record of 40.82. Felix made it a golden hat-trick the following day, running the second leg in the USA’s 4x400m relay final triumph to become the most successful female athlete at the London Games.
A Californian junior high school student who showed a gift for athletics at a very early age, Felix was only 15 when she won her first international title, taking gold in the 100m at the 2001 World Youth Championships in Debrecen (HUN). However, it was in the 200m and 400m that she would compile one of the finest CVs in women’s sprinting, winning three consecutive world 200m titles at Helsinki 2005 – where, aged 19, she became the youngest ever sprinter to win gold – Osaka 2007 and Berlin 2009. The remaining five of her eight world titles to date have come in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays, while at the 2011 Worlds in Daegu (KOR), Felix collected medals in every event she competed in: bronze in the 200m, silver in the 400m, and gold in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays. That makes her the only athlete in world championship history to finish on the podium in every individual and team sprint event.
Dominant in the Worlds, Felix suffered bitter disappointment in the Olympic 200m final at Athens 2004 and then again at Beijing 2008, losing both times to Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown. At the end of each race, the American broke down down in tears, but as she later explained, they were tears that would eventually drive her on to success. “The moments that motivated me the most were losing on the biggest stage, just never forgetting that feeling,” said the American sprint queen at London 2012. “I embrace the defeats because that’s what pushed me all those years.”