Felix gets a bronze medal in his farewell to the world championships

By EDDIE PELLS

EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Never mind that she got passed at the end of her final sprint around the track. Or ended up with a bronze medal instead of gold.

For a memorable 15 seconds on Friday night at the world championships, Allyson Felix sprinted alone in the sun, sailing well ahead of the pack on the backstretch. Her arms pumped and her knees thumped high with that near-perfect form that can only belong to her.

She is 36 now. So it wasn’t a huge shock that a rider 11 years her junior, Marileidy Paulino of the winning Dominican Republic team, finally brought her back. days of this meeting, finished third, also behind the Netherlands.

She still tied Félix’s 19th medal at the world championships, extending a record she already held. Adding that to the 11 she has won at the Olympics, she will finish her career with an even score of 30 at the biggest events in her sport.

Much like the end of Felix’s career, his last big night on the track wasn’t just about racing. It was a celebration of a once-in-a-lifetime athlete who stepped onto the scene as a shy teenager and left as a strong advocate for women and mothers both in and out of sport.

Google entered the scene. A search for his name on Friday evening brought up all of his identifying information, overlaid by the animation of his sprinting across the computer screen followed by the words “Olympian. Mother. Lawyer.”

It’s all part of a fitting finale for mother of 3-year-old Cammy, who said she can’t wait to be ‘normal’, focus on her family and not have to get up to sleep. train with his famous trainer Bobby. Kersee.

Felix was only entered in the mixed relay after failing to qualify for the world championships in an individual race. When his name was announced at the start, the hall at two-thirds of the first world championships held in the United States cheered as loudly as all night.

She paced and jumped after the tee shot, waiting for her last turn.

American Elijah Godwin had a slim lead when he passed him the baton, and for the first 200 meters of his final lap Felix widened the margin and was running virtually alone in the sun-splashed back. But she passed out after rounding her final corner and was caught by Paulino.

Vernon Norwood regained the lead in round three, but Dominican Fiordaliza Cofil passed American Kennedy Simon at anchor and then hurdler Femke Bol made a huge late charge to give the Netherlands silver. Down. The Dominican Republic won in 3 minutes, 9.82 seconds, by a margin of 0.08 seconds.

The United States finished in 3:10.16. The stat sheet shows that Felix ran his last 400 meters in 50.15 seconds. It’s a far cry from the 47.72 seconds she ran in a gold medal-winning 4×400 at the world championships in 2015 – still the fastest ever by an American – but it wasn’t the aim.

Her being there seemed like achievement enough, considering the route she climbed after an emergency C-section, eight weeks before her due date in 2019, left her with Cammy at the hospital and left Allyson thinking more about doing more racing than ever before.

Felix’s latest medal capped an opening day that also featured heats in the men’s 100m.

American Fred Kerley, an Olympic silver medalist last year, finished his race in 9.79 seconds – a lightning-fast time for a preliminary lap that was just 0.03 off his record for the season and 0.01 faster than Italian Marcel Jacobs’ victory last year in Tokyo.

All the other big names have advanced: Jacobs, Marvin Bracy, Olympic bronze medalist Andre De Grasse, 2011 world champion Yohan Blake and Christian Coleman, who is defending his world title after missing the Olympics due to a related suspension. missed doping tests.

Kenyan Ferdinand Omanyala also advanced. The seventh-ranked sprinter in the world in 2022 arrived in Eugene just about three hours before race time after dealing with visa issues that impacted dozens of athletes and coaches trying to go to America.

One of the few upsets of the day came when defending long jump champion Tajay Gayle of Jamaica committed three faults and failed to qualify.

World record holder Ryan Crouser and his biggest rival, reigning world champion Joe Kovacs, each competed in the shot put.

The competition’s first medals came in the 20 kilometer walk, where Kimberly Garcia won Peru’s first-ever medal at the world championships in a time of 1:26:28. Toshikazu Yamanishi of Japan successfully defended his men’s title clocking 1:19.07.

But those are the last medals of the night that everyone at Hayward Field will remember.

Felix smiled broadly as World Athletics Chairman Sebastian Coe hung the medal around his neck and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, present for the presentation, shook his hand.

Félix stood tall as the national anthem of the Dominican Republic played. Then, moments later, she walked out the ramp, leaving the big stage for the last time.

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