Comeback meant more than medal, says record-breaker Felix

Sports Tokyo 2020

Allyson Felix's 10th gold medal makes her the most decorated female track and field athlete in Olympic history. AFP
Allyson Felix’s 10th gold medal makes her the most decorated female track and field athlete in Olympic history. AFP

Tokyo, Japan | AFP

by Rob Woollard

Allyson Felix said her successful comeback meant more than her record-breaking 10th Olympic medal as she became the most decorated female track and field athlete in the history of the Games on Friday.

The 35-year-old American star, competing in her fifth and final Olympics, produced a typically gutsy performance in the 400m final to take bronze.

Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas won gold with the Dominican Republic’s Marileidy Paulino taking silver.

Behind them Felix dug deep in the closing stages to hold off a ferocious challenge from Jamaica’s Stephenie Ann McPherson, clocking 49.26sec -- her second fastest 400m time ever.

It was Felix’s first bronze medal of an Olympic career that has included six golds and three silver medals since her debut as a teenager at the 2004 Athens Games.

Her 10th Olympic medal on Friday took her one clear of Jamaican legend Merlene Ottey.

Felix, who could add to her collection in Saturday’s 4x400m relay, described her feeling of “just joy” after the bronze.

“This one is very different and very special,” Felix said. “It took a lot to get here.

“I was in lane nine, nobody thought I was going to be here, nobody thought I was going to be in the final besides (coach) Bobby (Kersee) and my family. I just needed a chance.

“It’s my first bronze medal, it’s hard to describe. All the other ones, I was so focused on the performance -- and this one is so much bigger than that.”

Felix has made a successful return to elite track and field since giving birth to her daughter Camryn in November 2018 after a life-threatening emergency C-section.

‘Biggest thing was coming back’

She said the memory of her daughter’s traumatic birth, and not knowing whether she would survive, had driven her towards her Tokyo swansong.

“I’m not too wrapped up in all that,” she said when asked about winning her record 10th Olympic medal.

“The biggest thing for me was coming back. From everything that I had been through.

“Earlier today I just looked through some of the videos again of things that we had taped when I was in the hospital with Cammy, and my comeback, and just those really really hard moments.

“And that’s what I tried to tap into. There was a moment when we weren’t sure I was going to make it. 

“And here I am. I’m at the Olympic Games at 35 years old. Who could ask for more?”

Felix added that she had been determined to take joy from her performance on Friday regardless of where she finished.

“I think a lot of times I have tied my worth to what happens at these championships and I didn’t want to do that this time,” she said.

“I’ve been through so much and obviously I always run for gold but I just wanted to have joy no matter what happened tonight.”

Moments after her bronze medal-winning run, Felix was able to video call family in California, including daughter Camryn.

“I was surprised she was awake, but we’ll deal with that later,” Felix said. “But it was pretty cool.”

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© Agence France-Presse

Tokyo 2020 AFP